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The xsl:if Element

All programming languages contain a construct to test for an item that can be only either true or false. If the value is true, a section of code is executed. If it's false, the first section is skipped, and another section may or may not be executed. In JavaScript, the construct is an if-else statement. The else part is optional. If your goal is to execute a segment of code when the value is true and do nothing otherwise, the else is not included.

In XSL, you can use the xsl:if command to construct an expression that will control the conditional execution of a block of XSL code. The delimiters of the block of code are the opening and closing <xsl:if> tags. There's no companion xsl:else command, although it can be mimicked in an awkward manner. For example, consider the following if construct:

     <xsl:if match="Author[Name='Charles Ashbacher']">

The if equivalent for the else would be as follows:

     <xsl:if match="Author[Name!='Charles Ashbacher']">

An xsl:if Example That Will Read the Catalog Database and Extract the Book Records with a BestSeller Attribute

The first example, Listing 15.1, demonstrates how to use xsl:if to selectively extract and display information from an XML file. The data file that you'll use is listing14-4.xml. Note that this is the <Catalog> database with the BestSeller attribute added to the <Book> tag.


The source code used in this chapter, including listing14-4.xml, can be downloaded from the Sams Publishing Web site, http://www.mcp.com/sams/display_sams.cfm?item=0672319500&itemhdr=Source%20Code&itemloc=sourcecode. See the Chapter 15 folder.

Listing 15.1  An xsl:if Conditional That's True If the Book Record Has a BestSeller Attribute

 1: <?xml version="1.0"?>
 2: <!-- This file is an XSL style sheet file that is used to
 3:      read the data from the simple book catalog database.
 4:      In this case, the data will be sorted when read, and
 5:      we are using conditional XSL elements to filter the
 6:      data.
 7: -->
 8: <xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="uri:xsl">
 9:  <xsl:template match="/">
10:  <html>
11:   <body>
12:   <table border="1">
13:   <tr style="font-weight:bold;color:blue">
14:   <td>Author Name</td>
15:   <td>Author Address</td>
16:   <td>Author City</td>
17:   <td>Author State</td>
18:   <td>Author e-mail</td>
19:   <td>Publisher Name</td>
20:   <td>Publisher Address</td>
21:   <td>Publisher Phone</td>
22:  </tr>
23:    <xsl:for-each select="Catalog/Book"
24:     <xsl:if match=".[@BestSeller]">
25:     <tr>
26:      <xsl:apply-templates/>
27:     </tr>
28:    </xsl:if>
29:    </xsl:for-each>
30:   </table>
31:   </body>
32:  </html>
33:  </xsl: template>
34: <xsl:template match="Author">
35:   <td><xsl:value-of select="Name"/></td>
36:   <td><xsl:value-of select="Address"/></td>
37:   <td><xsl:value-of select="City"/></td>
38:   <td><xsl:value-of select="State"/></td>
39:   <td><xsl:value-of select="Email"/></td>
40: </xsl:template>
41: <xsl:template match="Publisher">
42:   <td><xsl:value-of select="Name"/></td>
43:   <td><xsl:value-of select="Address"/></td>
44:   <td><xsl:value-of select="Phone"/></td>
45: </xsl:template>
46: </xsl: stylesheet>

Run the file in IE and note that only the entries where the BestSeller attribute is assigned a value are displayed. The output is illustrated in Figure 15.1.

Figure 15.1 The output of Listing 1.

This result is the consequence of the xsl:if, where the code guarded by the if is executed only when the following is true:


This is the syntax for the presence of the BestSeller attribute. Of course, if the attribute is present, the following line is executed and the data is extracted:


Because there's no alternative, nothing is done when there's no BestSeller attribute.

Note that the code guarded by the if is delimited by the following tags:

<xsl:if . . . >

An xsl:if Example That Selects Only the Records Where the BestSeller Attribute Has a Specific Value

Go back to Listing 15.1 and change this line

<xsl:if match=".[@BestSeller]">

to this:

<xsl:if match=".[@BestSeller='yes']">

This is the notation for selecting only those cases where the BestSeller attribute is assigned the value yes. Save the file before continuing.

View listing 14-4.html in IE 5. The output will be the only entry where BestSeller is assigned a value of yes. This is illustrated in Figure 15.2.

Figure 15.2 Extracting only the bestsellers.

Using Multiple xsl:if Elements in an XSL File

If you're dealing with an attribute with more than one possible value, you can handle each of the possibilities by using an additional <xsl:if>. Listing 15.2 demonstrates the use of more than one xsl:if inside an XSL file.

Listing 15.2  Using Multiple xsl:if Elements in an XSL File

 1: <?xml version="1.0"?>
 2: <!-- This file is an XSL style sheet file that is used to read the data from the
 3:      simple book catalog database. In this case, the data will be sorted when read, and
 4:      we are using conditional XSL elements to filter the data.
 5:      The filename is listing15-2.xsl. --> 
 6: <xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="uri:xsl">
 7:  <xsl:template match="/">
 8:  <html>
 9:   <body>
10:   <table border="1">
11:   <tr style="font-weight:bold;color:blue">
12:   <td>Author Name</td>
13:   <td>Author Address</td>
14:   <td>Author City</td>
15:   <td>Author State</td>
16:   <td>Author e-mail</td>
17:   <td>Publisher Name</td>
18:   <td>Publisher Address</td>
19:   <td>Publisher Phone</td>
20:  </tr>
21:    <xsl:for-each select="Catalog/Book" order-by="+Author/City">
22:     <xsl:if match=".[@BestSeller='yes']">
23:     <tr>
24:      <xsl:apply-templates/>
25:     </tr>
26:    </xsl:if>
27:     <xsl:if match=".[@BestSeller='no']">
28:     <tr style="font-weight:bold;color:red">
29:    <td>Not a bestseller</td>
30:     </tr>
31:    </xsl:if>
32:    </xsl:for-each>
33:   </table>
34:   </body>
35:  </html> 
36:  </xsl: template>
37: <xsl:template match="Author">
38:   <td><xsl:value-of select="Name"/></td>
39:   <td><xsl:value-of select="Address"/></td>
40:   <td><xsl:value-of select="City"/></td>
41:   <td><xsl:value-of select="State"/></td>
42:   <td><xsl:value-of select="Email"/></td>
43: </xsl:template>
44: <xsl:template match="Publisher">
45:   <td><xsl:value-of select="Name"/></td>
46:   <td><xsl:value-of select="Address"/></td>
47:   <td><xsl:value-of select="Phone"/></td>
48: </xsl:template>
49: </xsl: stylesheet>

Modify listing14-2.html so that listing15-2.xsl is the XSL file opened. The output when the file is viewed in IE is illustrated in Figure 15.3.

Figure 15.3 Outputting a simple message when the BestSeller attribute is no.

The XML data file has two different values assigned to the BestSeller attribute, yes and no. This example includes two different xsl:if elements, one for each possible value of the BestSeller. The output when it was no was rather crude, consisting of a message in red. Because the only point was to demonstrate the difference, this was acceptable.

If an attribute can have several values, it's possible to include an xsl:if element for every one. However, this rapidly becomes awkward and difficult to understand. The solution is to create a multiple alternative construct using a combination of xsl:choose, xsl:when, and xsl:otherwise elements.

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