Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Website Implementation

I have been reading this website for quite a while :

I find their implementation rather strange, why would someone want to implement their website in this way.

Doesn;t this drastically slow down a website? What advantage does this hold?


Prakash S
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Buzz word compliance.

Matthew Lock
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

It doesn't render in either of my browsers (Safari & Camino). What is it?

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

It does not render on either of mine as well (Netscape 7.0 and Internet Explorer 5.5). I doubt they even want people to read it.

Gertjan de Back
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Sounds like you are going to have to be more explicit about what "this way" is.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

In IE6 I get the message:

The XML page cannot be displayed
Cannot view XML input using XSL style sheet. Please correct the error and then click the Refresh button, or try again later.


The stylesheet does not contain a document element. The stylesheet may be empty, or it may not be a well-formed XML document.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003 is the actual website, try it.

Prakash S
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

For those who report that the site doesn't render:
Please give it some time - it takes a bazillion seconds for a browser to figure out what this page actually is, and it apparently draws on  many other slow sources.

I've looked at the source code, and it identifies itself as XML, so I ran it through some XML validator - and it doesn't validate, don't know if it's the validator or the source code that is broke...

And it certainly isn't HTML...

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Though I can't actually see the Website, from the url and error message I assume the site consists of xml documents which are rendering by xsl.

There are currently no good technical reasons for doing this.

The decision to do this was most likely made by a non-technical person who places more value in being chic and sexy then in having a functional Website.


Wednesday, March 12, 2003

The first URL Prakash posted was sending XML. The second URL,, does send valid HTML but slowwwly.

The sites slowness may not be related to generating HTML from XML on the fly.  Regardless, I think generating HTML from XML is generally a bad idea. What do others think?

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

It can be a good idea. Some companies I know use XML and depending on the user gets different outputdepending on how they are connecting - web browser results in html output to the client, wap broswer gets wml, etc.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003


I can not get to either site so you migth want to explain what exactly the site is doing.

We have used XSLT(XML)->HTML for some sites based on a CMS before.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

A news site sending out html from xml is a reasonable idea, as it could offer content removed from presentation so the site can be completely updated without losing any data.

However if a site is sending out semi-static information (where the data doesn't change second to second but rather hour to hour or day to day) it should render a new site in its spare time for the necessary files and store them.  When a user requests a page, if a stored page is still current send it (HTML) otherwise render a page, store it, and send the new HTML (from XML). 

This would significantly speed up the user experience on the site.

Lou Brothers
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

I agree that there should be a layer of abstraction between the content and it's presentation. This layer of abstraction should be a relational database, not xml.

Smart news sites will store their content in an RDBMS then generate the html (or wml) from that. In most situations, this will be more efficient and maintainable then using xml.

I read once that most of consists of xml that is generated to html on the fly. Does anyone know if this is true?

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

But then you couldn't use that big ole box of XML (tm)! What a great idea. Because god knows one day that this piece of shit application might need to share data with another and I want to build in every feature ever that has even a 1% chance of becoming reality. I want to spend the cost of time and money up front, not later when we might need it.

Seriouly though, what if you have multiple data sources on different platforms, or feeds from other sources? XML would make a great case for itself if so. If you want to use the same data for different platform displays (IE: one for web, one for PDA's, one for some in house aggregator/RSS feed) XML is a good way to abstract a data store(s).

I think XML is great but XSLT is bloated and half ass IMHO.
I prefer to parse XML using a parser to output the various formats I need. Of course that's just my opinion and goes against the current trend of XML/XSL everything (tm).

XML will fight tyranny. XML will make you look good. XML helps fight cavities. XML is thought to help cure cancer (I can prove this, all I need is $1 million in funding for my study). XML made a red carpet appearance at the Academy Awards and Joan Rivers said XML looked marvelous! XML, did I ever tell you that you were my hero.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Not really wanting to start a fllame war <g>

but in general sub-continental web sites are VILE. They seem to take the worst in colour displays from 1999-2000 (pink text on a dark bliue background for example) and then combine it with the slowest loading least necessary flash animations ever devised. And this from a sub-ciontinent where broad band or even unmetered dial-up access is almost unknown. I was looking at real estate in Sril Lanka a couple of days ago and the time it took to load was increidible; you could almost build the real house faster than see the 3D flash animation they gave you  of the development.

It does seem as if nobody actuallly bothers to time how long it takes their sites to load under a normal flaky telephone line going through a sub-standard switch.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Just Me:

I think the website is spewing out XML, was not sure how or why it was doing it the way it was doing it


The paper edition has that kind oh hue (like the Finacial Times) , that is the reason they are trying to maintain the same thing on the website. They are being consistent with the paper edition and the website

More thoughts?

Prakash S
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

"They are being consistent with the paper edition and the website"

Which ignores the fact that paper and computer display are not the same. Although consistency itself is a good thing, ignoring factors that might influence it isn't.

Practical Geezer
Thursday, March 13, 2003

XML + XSLT is a fine way of seperating content from presentation.  The only problem is if you put it on your web site and expect the user's browser to apply the XSLT for you...  New versions of IE do it fine, but support is not universal.  Also, it requires that the client download the XSLT, which may be large and any amount of it could be unnecessary (like an excessive CSS file).  Also, I think it's not possible to even begin applying the XSLT until both it and the XML file are fully downloaded (whereas the browser can start to render HTML on-the-fly).

What I would do is apply the XSLT server-side, and return the html to the browser.  Best of both worlds.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home