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Displaying XML Data from other Web Sources as HTML using XSL, Part 3

By Brandon Monahan

  • Read Part 1
  • Read Part 2

  • In Part 2 we looked at XSL, which is responsible for rendering XML data. In this part we'll examine more features of XSL!

    Another XLS tag we will be using allows us to loop through the XML document so we get all of the information sent in the XML document. The syntax is simply this:

    <xsl:for-each select="loopingElement">

    This can easily be used in our example XML like the following:

    <xsl:for-each select="newsfeed/channel">

    This will loop through each channel and we could write out the name of the channel like so:

    <xsl:for-each select="newsfeed/channel">
      <br><b><xsl:value-of select="@title"></xsl:value-of></b></br>

    Notice a couple of things. First, note the @ in the value-of statement. This is the syntax for grabbing attribute values from an XML tag. The format is simply <xsl:value-of select="@attributeName">.

    The second thing to notice is that we must have the ending tags even though it seems a little ridiculous. The designers of XML agree with us so they give an easy way out; use a forward slash (/) at the end of the tag to specify that the end tag would have been next anyway. Below is what our code could look like:

    <xsl:for-each select="newsfeed/channel">
      <br/><b><xsl:value-of select="@title"/></b>

    Also you might have noticed that our <xsl:value-of select="@title"/> tag did not contain any directory structure. That is, using the direction I gave above, shouldn't it look like <xsl:value-of select="newsfeed/channel/@title"/>? The answer is no. Because you have already navigated to the appropriate element with <xsl:for-each select="newsfeed/channel"> you only need to refer to the relative position of the data you choose to display.

    This makes for an interesting syntax, the last you will need to learn for this lesson. How can you get the value of that element when you have already navigated to that element earlier on? For example:

    <xsl:for-each select="newsfeed/channel/headline">
      <xsl:value-of />

    As you can see above, we already navigated to our headline element inside the loop statement. To then display the value of the headline tag, it is necessary to use <xsl:value-of />. That will give the value of the current element.

    Ok, ok, there is one more smidgen of syntax you need to learn; how to create a hyperlink from XML. Because XML tags can not be embedded in HTML (such as <a href="<xsl:value-of select="@href"/>">) it is necessary to have special syntax to make links. That syntax is as follows:

      <xsl:attribute name="href">
      <xsl:value-of select="@href"/>
      <xsl:value-of />

    Simply stated, use <A> then place the attribute of href and then print the value of the href and then print the value of the text you want to be in the href and then close everything up. And then, it magically works.

    Now that we've looked at XML and using XSL to render properly formatted XML, it's time that we show how to use XSL to display the XML provided by In Part 4 we'll look at how to accomplish this!

  • Read Part 4!
  • Read Part 2
  • Read Part 1

  • Article Information
    Article Title: Displaying XML Data from other Web Sources as HTML using XSL, Part 3
    Article Author: Brandon Monahan
    Published Date: Wednesday, June 07, 2000
    Article URL:

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