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name XSLT
| logo =
| logo caption =
| screenshot =
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| file ext =
| paradigm = Declarative
| scope =
| year = 1998
| designer =
| developer = W3C
| latest release version = 3.0
| latest release date =
| latest preview date =
| typing =
| implementations = libxslt, Saxon, Xalan
| versions = XSLT 1.0, XSLT 2.0, XSLT 3.0
| influenced by = DSSSL
| influenced =
| programming language =
| platform =
| operating system =
| license =
| website = W3C Transformation
| wikibooks =
XSLT (eXtensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) is a language for transforming XML documents into other XML documents,WEB,weblink Transformation, 2012-09-19, or other formats such as HTML for web pages, plain text or XSL Formatting Objects, which may subsequently be converted to other formats, such as PDF, PostScript and PNG.WEB,weblink XML Output Method, 2012-09-19, XSLT 1.0 is widely supported in modern web browsers.WEB,weblink What is XSLT Used For?, 2018-02-07, The original document is not changed; rather, a new document is created based on the content of an existing one.WEB,weblink Introduction, W3C, XSL Transformations (XSLT) Version 1.0 W3C Recommendation, 16 November 1999, November 7, 2012, Typically, input documents are XML files, but anything from which the processor can build an XQuery and XPath Data Model can be used, such as relational database tables or geographical information systems.Although XSLT is designed as a special-purpose language for XML transformation, the language is Turing-complete, making it theoretically capable of arbitrary computations.XSLT Version 2.0 Is Turing-Complete: A Purely Transformation Based Proof


XSLT is influenced by functional languages,WEB,weblink Michael Kay, What kind of language is XSLT?, July 8, 2016, and by text-based pattern matching languages like SNOBOL and AWK. Its most direct predecessor is DSSSL, which did for SGML what XSLT does for XML.WEB,weblink A Proposal for XSL, W3C, November 7, 2012, , Despite its age, XSLT 1.0WEB,weblink XSL Transformations (XSLT),, 1999-11-16, 2014-07-12, is still widely used (as of 2018), since later versions are not supported natively in web browsers or for environments like LAMP.
  • XSLT 2.0: after an abortive attempt to create a version 1.1 in 2001,WEB,weblink XSL Transformations (XSLT) Version 1.1,, 2001-08-24, 2014-07-12, the XSL working group joined forces with the XQuery working group to create XPath 2.0,WEB,weblink XML Path Language (XPath) 2.0 (Second Edition),, 2010-12-14, 2014-07-12, with a richer data model and type system based on XML Schema. Building on this is XSLT 2.0,WEB,weblink XSL Transformations (XSLT) Version 2.0,, 2007-01-23, 2014-07-12, developed under the editorship of Michael Kay, which reached recommendation status in January 2007.WEB,weblink XML and Semantic Web W3C Standards Timeline, 2012-02-04, The most important innovations in XSLT 2.0 include:
    • String manipulation using regular expressions
    • Functions and operators for manipulating dates, times, and durations
    • Multiple output documents
    • Grouping (creating hierarchic structure from flat input sequences)
    • A richer type system and stronger type checking
  • XSLT 3.0: became a W3C Recommendation on 8 June 2017. The main new features are:WEB, What's New in XSLT 3.0?
element can optionally take the attribute media-type, which allows one to set the media type (or MIME type) for the resulting output, for example: . The XSLT 1.0 recommendation recommends the more general attribute types text/xml and application/xml since for a long time there was no registered media type for XSLT. During this time text/xsl became the de facto standard. In XSLT 1.0 it was not specified how the media-type values should be used.With the release of the XSLT 2.0, the W3C recommended the registration of the MIME media type application/xslt+xmlWEB, XSL Transformations (XSLT) Version 2.0,weblink W3C, 19 October 2012, and it was later registered with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.WEB, Application Media Types,weblink IANA, 19 October 2012, Pre-1.0 working drafts of XSLT used text/xsl in their embedding examples, and this type was implemented and continues to be promoted by Microsoft in Internet ExplorerWEB, XSLT Requirements for Viewing XML in a Browser,weblink Microsoft, 19 October 2012, and MSXML. It is also widely recognized in the xml-stylesheet processing instruction by other browsers. In practice, therefore, users wanting to control transformation in the browser using this processing instruction are obliged to use this unregistered media type.BOOK, Kay, Michael, XSLT 2.0 and XPath 2.0 Programmer's Reference, 2008, Wiley, 978-0-470-19274-0, 100,


These examples use the following incoming XML document



Example 1 (transforming XML to XML)

This XSLT stylesheet provides templates to transform the XML document:

Its evaluation results in a new XML document, having another structure:

Example 2 (transforming XML to XHTML)

Processing the following example XSLT file

Testing XML Example



with the XML input file shown above results in the following XHTML (whitespace has been adjusted here for clarity):
Testing XML Example


Ismincius, Morka
Smith, John

This XHTML generates the output below when rendered in a web browser.
missing image!
- xslt ex2.png -
center|Rendered XHTML generated from an XML input file and an XSLT transformation.
In order for a web browser to be able automatically to apply an XSL transformation to an XML document on display, an XML stylesheet processing instruction can be inserted into XML. So, for example, if the stylesheet in Example 2 above were available as "example2.xsl", the following instruction could be added to the original incoming XML:WEB,weblink XSL Transformations (XSLT) Version 1.0: W3C Recommendation â€“ Embedding Stylesheets, 16 November 1999, W3C, 20 September 2016, In this example, text/xsl is technically incorrect according to the W3C specifications (which say the type should be application/xslt+xml), but it is the only media type that is widely supported across browsers as of 2009.

Processor implementations

  • RaptorXML from Altova is an XSLT 3.0 processor available in the XMLSpy development toolkit and as a free-standing server implementation, invoked using a REST interface.
  • IBM offers XSLT processing embedded in a special-purpose hardware appliance under the Datapower brand.
  • libxslt is a free library released under the MIT License that can be reused in commercial applications. It is based on libxml and implemented in C for speed and portability. It supports XSLT 1.0 and EXSLT extensions.WEB, The XSLT C library for GNOME: libxslt,weblink 23 November 2012,
    • It can be used at the command line via xsltprocWEB, The XSLT C library for GNOME: The xsltproc tool,weblink 23 November 2012, which is included in macOSWEB, xsltproc man page,weblink 23 November 2012, and many Linux distributions, and can be used on Windows via Cygwin.WEB, New package: libxslt,weblink 23 November 2012,
    • The WebKit and Blink layout engines, used for example in the Safari and Chrome web browsers respectively, uses the libxslt library to do XSL transformations.WEB,weblink The WebKit Open Source Project - XSLT, 2009-10-25,
    • Bindings exist for Python,WEB, The XML C parser and toolkit of Gnome: Python and bindings,weblink 23 November 2012, Perl,WEB, XML::LibXSLT - Interface to the GNOME libxslt library,weblink CPAN, 23 November 2012, Ruby,WEB, libxslt-ruby,weblink 23 November 2012, PHP,WEB, libxml,weblink 23 November 2012, Common Lisp,WEB, cl-libxml2 High-level wrapper around libxml2 and libxslt libraries,weblink Tcl,WEB, TclXML,weblink 21 May 2013, and C++.WEB, libxml++,weblink, 23 November 2012,
  • Microsoft provides two XSLT processors (both XSLT 1.0 only). The earlier processor MSXML provides COM interfaces; from MSXML 4.0 it also includes the command line utility msxsl.exe.WEB, Command Line Transformation Utility (msxsl.exe),weblink Microsoft, 22 October 2012, The .NET runtime includes a separate built-in XSLT processor in its System.Xml.Xsl library.
  • Saxon is an XSLT 3.0 and XQuery 3.1 processor with open-source and proprietary versions for stand-alone operation and for Java, JavaScript and .NET. A derived product Saxon-JSWEB, Saxon-JS,weblink Saxonica, 6 September 2018, offers XSLT 3.0 processing in the browser.
  • Xalan is an open source XSLT 1.0 processor from the Apache Software Foundation available for Java and C++. A variant of the Xalan processor is included as the default XSLT processor in the standard Java distribution from Oracle.
  • Web browsers: Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer all support XSLT 1.0 (only). Browsers can perform on-the-fly transformations of XML files and display the transformation output in the browser window. This is done either by embedding the XSL in the XML document or by referencing a file containing XSL instructions from the XML document. The latter may not work with Chrome because of its security model.WEB,weblink Can't read an XML and/or XSLT in Google Chrome, Stack Overflow, 2014, 12 July 2014,


Most early XSLT processors were interpreters. More recently, code generation is increasingly common, using portable intermediate languages (such as Java bytecode or .NET Common Intermediate Language) as the target. However, even the interpretive products generally offer separate analysis and execution phases, allowing an optimized expression tree to be created in memory and reused to perform multiple transformations. This gives substantial performance benefits in online publishing applications, where the same transformation is applied many times per second to different source documents.Saxon: Anatomy of an XSLT processor - Article describing implementation & optimization details of a popular XSLT processor. This separation is reflected in the design of XSLT processing APIs (such as JAXP).Early XSLT processors had very few optimizations. Stylesheet documents were read into Document Object Models and the processor would act on them directly. XPath engines were also not optimized. Increasingly, however, XSLT processors use optimization techniques found in functional programming languages and database query languages, such as static rewriting of an expression tree (e.g., to move calculations out of loops), and lazy pipelined evaluation to reduce the memory footprint of intermediate results (and allow "early exit" when the processor can evaluate an expression such as following-sibling::*[1] without a complete evaluation of all subexpressions). Many processors also use tree representations that are significantly more efficient (in both space and time)JOURNAL, Improving Pattern Matching Performance in XSLT, John, Lumley, Michael, Kay, June 2015, XML London 2015, 10.14337/XMLLondon15.Lumley01,weblink 9–25, 978-0-9926471-2-4, than general-purpose DOM implementations.In June 2014, Debbie Lockett and Michael Kay introduced an open-source benchmarking framework for XSLT processors called XT-Speedo.JOURNAL, Benchmarking XSLT Performance, Michael, Kay, Debbie, Lockett, June 2014, XML London 2014, 10.14337/XMLLondon14.Kay01,weblink 10–23, 978-0-9926471-1-7,

See also



Further reading

  • XSLT by Doug Tidwell, published by O’Reilly ({{ISBN|0-596-00053-7}})
  • XSLT Cookbook by Sal Mangano, published by O’Reilly ({{ISBN|0-596-00974-7}})
  • XSLT 2.0 Programmer's Reference by Michael Kay ({{ISBN|0-764-56909-0}})
  • XSLT 2.0 and XPath 2.0 Programmer's Reference by Michael Kay ({{ISBN|978-0-470-19274-0}})
  • XSLT 2.0 Web Development by Dmitry Kirsanov ({{ISBN|0-13-140635-3}})
  • XSL Companion, 2nd Edition by Neil Bradley, published by Addison-Wesley ({{ISBN|0-201-77083-0}})
  • XSLT and XPath on the Edge (Unlimited Edition) by Jeni Tennison, published by Hungry Minds Inc, U.S. ({{ISBN|0-7645-4776-3}})
  • XSLT & XPath, A Guide to XML Transformations by John Robert Gardner and Zarella Rendon, published by Prentice-Hall ({{ISBN|0-13-040446-2}})
  • XSL-FO by Dave Pawson, published by O'Reilly ({{ISBN|978-0-596-00355-5}})

External links

{{Commons category|Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations}}

XSLT code libraries
  • EXSLT is a widespread community initiative to provide extensions to XSLT.
  • FXSL is a library implementing support for Higher-order functions in XSLT. FXSL is written in XSLT itself.
  • The XSLT Standard Library xsltsl, provides the XSLT developer with a set of XSLT templates for commonly used functions. These are implemented purely in XSLT, that is they do not use any extensions. xsltsl is a SourceForge project.
  • Kernow A GUI for Saxon that provides a point and click interface for running transforms.
  • xslt.js â€“ Transform XML with XSLT JavaScript library that transforms XML with XSLT in the browser.
{{XSL}}{{W3C Standards}}{{Authority control}}

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    • Streaming transformations: in previous versions the entire input document had to be read into memory before it could be processed,
WEB, Kay, Michael, A Streaming XSLT Processor,weblink Balisage: The Markup Conference 2010 Proceedings, 15 February 2012, and output could not be written until processing had finished (although Saxon does have a streaming extension). XSLT 3.0 allows XML streaming which is useful for processing documents too large to fit in memory or when transformations are chained in XML Pipelines.
    • Improvements to the modularity of large stylesheets.
    • Improved handling of dynamic errors with, for example, an xsl:try instruction.
    • Functions can now be arguments to other (higher-order) functions.

Design and processing model

right|thumb|Diagram of the basic elements and process flow of eXtensible Stylesheet Language Transformations.The XSLT processor takes one or more XML source documents, plus one or more XSLT stylesheets, and processes them to produce an output document. In contrast to widely implemented imperative programming languages like C, XSLT is declarative.WEB, Discover the Wonders of XSLT: XSLT Quirks,weblink XSLT is a very specialized language with a distinct declarative flavor., The basic processing paradigm is pattern matching.WEB, Kay, Michael, What kind of language is XSLT?,weblink IBM, 13 November 2013, Rather than listing an imperative sequence of actions to perform in a stateful environment, template rules only define how to handle a node matching a particular XPath-like pattern, if the processor should happen to encounter one, and the contents of the templates effectively comprise functional expressions that directly represent their evaluated form: the result tree, which is the basis of the processor's output.The processor follows a fixed algorithm.WEB, XSLT Definitions,weblink XSLT declarations define a set of rules and guidelines that are applied during processing according to a predefined algorithm., First, assuming a stylesheet has already been read and prepared, the processor builds a source tree from the input XML document. It then processes the source tree's root node, finds the best-matching template for that node in the stylesheet, and evaluates the template's contents. Instructions in each template generally direct the processor to either create nodes in the result tree, or to process more nodes in the source tree in the same way as the root node. Output derives from the result tree.


{{details|XPath}}XSLT uses XPath to identify subsets of the source document tree and perform calculations. XPath also provides a range of functions, which XSLT itself further augments.XSLT 1.0 uses XPath 1.0, while XSLT 2.0 uses XPath 2.0. XSLT 3.0 will work with either XPath 3.0 or 3.1. In the case of 1.0 and 2.0, the XSLT and XPath specifications were published on the same date. With 3.0, however, they were no longer synchronized; XPath 3.0 became a Recommendation in April 2014, followed by XPath 3.1 in February 2017; XSLT 3.0 followed in June 2017.

XQuery compared

{{details|XQuery#XQuery and XSLT compared}}XSLT functionalities overlap with those of XQuery, which was initially conceived as a query language for large collections of XML documents.The XSLT 2.0 and XQuery 1.0 standards were developed by separate working groups within W3C, working together to ensure a common approach where appropriate. They share the same data model, type system, and function library, and both include XPath 2.0 as a sublanguage.The two languages, however, are rooted in different traditions and serve the needs of different communities. XSLT was primarily conceived as a stylesheet language whose primary goal was to render XML for the human reader on screen, on the web (as a web template language), or on paper. XQuery was primarily conceived as a database query language in the tradition of SQL.Because the two languages originate in different communities, XSLT is stronger in its handlingof narrative documents with more flexible structure, while XQuery is stronger in its data handling, for example when performing relational joins.{{Citation needed|date=July 2009}}

Media types