8.7. The Built-in Template Rules
There are seven kinds of nodes in an XML document: the root node, element nodes, attribute nodes, text nodes, comment nodes, processing instruction nodes, and namespace nodes. XSLT provides a default built-in template rule for each of these seven kinds of nodes that says what to do with that node if the stylesheet author has not provided more specific instructions. These rules use special wildcard XPath expressions to match all nodes of a given type. Together these template rules have major effects on which nodes are activated when.
8.7.1. The Default Template Rule for Text and Attribute Nodes
<xsl:template match="text( )|@*"> <xsl:value-of select="."/> </xsl:template>
The text( ) node test is an XPath pattern matching all text nodes, just as first_name is an XPath pattern matching all first_name element nodes. @* is an XPath pattern matching all attribute nodes. The vertical bar combines these two patterns so that the template rule matches both text and attribute nodes. The rule's template says that whenever a text or attribute node is matched, the processor should output the value of that node. For a text node, this value is simply the text in the node. For an attribute, this value is the attribute value but not the name.
Example 8-10 is an XSLT stylesheet that pulls the birth and death dates out of the born and died attributes in Example 8-1. The default template rule for attributes takes the value of the attributes, but an explicit rule selects those values. The @ sign in @born and @died indicates that these are attributes of the matched element rather than child elements.
Example 8-10. An XSLT stylesheet that reads attribute
<?xml version="1.0"?> <xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform"> <xsl:template match="people"> <html> <head><title>Famous Scientists</title></head> <body> <dl> <xsl:apply-templates/> </dl> </body> </html> </xsl:template> <xsl:template match="person"> <dt><xsl:apply-templates select="name"/></dt> <dd><ul> <li>Born: <xsl:apply-templates select="@born"/></li> <li>Died: <xsl:apply-templates select="@died"/></li> </ul></dd> </xsl:template> </xsl:stylesheet>
Example 8-11. The HTML document produced by applying Example 8-10 to Example 8-1
<html> <head> <title>Famous Scientists</title> </head> <body> <dl> <dt> Alan Turing </dt> <dd> <ul> <li>Born: 1912</li> <li>Died: 1954</li> </ul> </dd> <dt> Richard P Feynman </dt> <dd> <ul> <li>Born: 1918</li> <li>Died: 1988</li> </ul> </dd> </dl> </body> </html>
It's important to note that although this template rule says what should happen when an attribute node is reached, by default the XSLT processor never reaches attribute nodes and, therefore, never outputs the value of an attribute. Attribute values are output according to this template only if a specific rule applies templates to them, and none of the default rules do this because attributes are not considered to be children of their parents. In other words, if element E has an attribute A, then E is the parent of A, but A is not the child of E. (The biological metaphor breaks down here.) Applying templates to the children of an element with <xsl:apply-templates/> does not apply templates to attributes of the element. To do that, the xsl:apply-templates element must contain an XPath expression specifically selecting attributes.
8.7.2. The Default Template Rule for Element and Root Nodes
<xsl:template match="*|/"> <xsl:apply-templates/> </xsl:template>
The asterisk * is an XPath wild-card pattern that matches all element nodes, regardless of what name they have or what namespace they're in. The forward slash / is an XPath pattern that matches the root node. This is the first node the processor selects for processing, and therefore this is the first template rule the processor executes (unless a nondefault template rule also matches the root node). Again, the vertical bar combines these two expressions so that it matches both the root node and element nodes. In isolation, this rule means that the XSLT processor eventually finds and applies templates to all nodes except attribute and namespace nodes because every nonattribute, non-namespace node is either the root node, a child of the root node, or a child of an element. Only attribute and namespace nodes are not children of their parents. (You can think of them as disinherited nodes.)
Of course, templates may override the default behavior. For example, when you include a template rule matching person elements in your stylesheet, then children of the matched person elements are not necessarily processed, unless your own template says to process them.
8.7.3. The Default Template Rule for Comment and Processing Instruction Nodes
<xsl:template match="processing-instruction()|comment( )"/>
It matches all comments and processing instructions. However, it does not output anything into the result tree. That is, unless you provide specific rules matching comments or processing instructions, no part of these items will be copied from the input document to the output document.
8.7.4. The Default Template Rule for Namespace Nodes
A similar template rule matches namespace nodes and instructs the processor not to copy any part of the namespace node to the output. This is truly a built-in rule that must be implemented in the XSLT processor's source code; it can't even be written down in an XSLT stylesheet because there's no such thing as an XPath pattern matching a namespace node. That is, there's no namespace( ) node test in XPath. The XSLT processor handles the insertion of any necessary namespace declarations in the output document automatically, without any special assistance from namespace templates.
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