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# Friday, 02 April 2010

Xslt 1.0 has been designed based on the best intentions. Xslt 2.0 got a legacy baggage.

If you're not entirely concentrated during translation of your algorithms into xslt 2.0 you can get into trap, as we did.

Consider a code snapshot:

<xsl:variable name="elements" as="element()+">
  <xsl:apply-templates/>
</xsl:variable>

<xsl:variable name="converted-elements" as="element()+"
  select="$elements/t:convert(.)"/>

Looks simple, isn't it?

Our intention was to get converted elements, which result from some xsl:apply-templates logic.

Well, this code works... but rather sporadically, as results are often in wrong order! This bug is very close to what is called a Heisenbug.

So, where is the problem?

Elementary, my dear Watson:

  1. xsl:apply-templates constructs a sequence of rootless elements.
  2. $elements/t:convert(.) converts elements and orders them in document order.

Here is a tricky part:

The relative order of nodes in distinct trees is stable but implementation-dependent...

Clearly each rootless element belongs to a unique tree.

After that we have realized what the problem is, code has been immediately rewritten as:

<xsl:variable name="elements" as="element()+">
  <xsl:apply-templates/>
</xsl:variable>

<xsl:variable name="converted-elements" as="element()+" select="
  for $element in $elements return
    t:convert($element)"/>

P.S. Taking into an accout a size of our xslt code base, it took a half an hour to localize the problem. Now, we're at position to review all uses of slashes in xslt. As you like it?

Friday, 02 April 2010 17:53:18 UTC  #    Comments [0] -
Thinking aloud | xslt
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