REP-2003-343 - CISE Technical Report TR03-012, July 2003...

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Unformatted text preview: CISE Technical Report TR03-012, July 2003 Using XML/XSLT as an Alternative to Microsoft Excel Pradeep Padala Computer & Information Science & Engineering University of Florida Gainesville, Florida 326116120 Email: ppadala@cise.ufl.edu Abstract In CISE 1 , instructors usually maintain student records in Microsoft Excel. This causes serious interoperability and flexibility issues. Alternatives like storing the data in flat files or comma separated value (CSV) files require glue code to be written. XML/XSLT provide an exciting alternative to representing the data in a platform independent way. In this paper, we design XML documents for representing student records and XSL transformations to apply on the documents. We conclude by showing that XML/XSLT offer a distinct advantage over the alternatives. I. I NTRODUCTION XML[1] provides a convenient way of representing het- erogeneous data. It provides interoperability and an easy of manipulating the data with tools like XSLT[2]. Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet and analysis program that is used to store data like payrolls, student grades etc. Excel provides various ways to interact with the data using macros. But, Excel can only be run on windows and has serious interoperability problems with other office suites like OpenOffice. At CISE, instructors maintain student records containing various information like project grades, exam grades and extra credit. Usually, they are stored in Excel causing interoperabil- ity problems with UNIX applications. As a teaching assistant for CEN3031 ( Introduction to Soft- ware Engineering ), I have developed various methods to cope up with the platform dependence of Excel. In this paper, first, I explain the basic problem associated with using Excel to store data and basics of data representation. Then, the proposed solution for representing the data in XML is explained. Next, variations of the document and benefits of each representation are discussed. Finally, the XSL transformations applied to the XML document and resulting HTML output is shown. II. T HE PROBLEM- DATA REPRESENTATION In CEN3031, we have student records containing grades. The grades are entered by a TA and are shown to the students on on-line services. The on-line services serve the content using CGI (Common Gateway Interface). Student records often contain simple fields like name, ssn, exam1 grade etc. Using Excel to store and manipulating the This article is the result of a discussion with Dr. Cubert regarding using XML/XSLT for representing student records in CEN3031 1 Computer & Information Science & Engineering <course name="se"> <student> blah blah blah blah blah blah </student> </course> Fig. 1. Sample listing records is straight-forward and easy. But, Excel is dependent on windows platform. The data can also be represented in simple text or csv (comma separated value format) files. Due to simple nature of these files, they require glue code for manipulation. Though the glue code can be developed quicklymanipulation....
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This note was uploaded on 01/15/2012 for the course CEN 3031 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of Florida.

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REP-2003-343 - CISE Technical Report TR03-012, July 2003...

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