Advanced concepts: XML and XSL - Microstrategy

You do not need to know anything about XML and XSL to successfully create and view HTML documents. However, the ability to customize the XSL provides additional functionality that you can use to create more personalized HTML documents.


XML is an acronym for eXtensible Markup Language. XML provides a standard set of rules for representing data in a textual representation. Like a database table, XML contains both data and information about that data. For a database table, this information takes the form of column names and data types. For XML, it is stored as tags and attributes. A tag in XML is similar to a tag in HTML: it is not in itself data to be displayed or used, but rather provides information about how to display the data. An attribute in XML is similar to an attribute in HTML: it provides characteristics about a tag, and also about the underlying data. In XML, each piece of underlying data is called an element.

Attributes and elements in XML and HTML are not related to MicroStrategy attributes and elements.

XML can more easily represent a wider variety of data than a relational table can. This flexibility is one important part of what makes XML so powerful. The other part is the ability to make use of any custom tag within an XML document. Unlike HTML documents, which are limited to a predetermined set of tags, XML documents can include literally any tag within them; the interpretation of the tag is left to the XSL Stylesheet and the rendering application.

The XML generated for the document definition contains a pointer with a path to the HTML layout file. Therefore, the HTML file needs to be accessible from the MicroStrategy Intelligence Server and the MicroStrategy Desktop interface. This is also true for XSL files associated with the content elements. At run time, the MicroStrategy Intelligence Server scans through the HTML layout file and replaces the image placeholders with the corresponding reports and applies the given XSL to each of the reports.

There are also several publications available that provide additional information about the XML standard.


XSL is an acronym for eXtensible Stylesheet Language. XSL is what dictates the style (such as color and font) for a grid. Each report in an HTML document must have an XSL associated with it so that the report can be formatted.

An XSL Stylesheet is a specific type of XML document and therefore must observe the same set of rules as any other XML document. The XSL standard provides a set of specialtags, rules, and methods that can be used together to process XML documents and turn them into formatted output such as HTML.

XSL stylesheets

XSL Sylesheets provide a very powerful means of controlling the output format for MicroStrategy grids. They can be used for much more than simple grid formatting control. Forexample, XSL Stylesheets can be used to control the insertion of images, phrases, or even frames.

For a list and description of the stylesheets that are installed with MicroStrategy in the XSL folder within the application directory (Drive:/Program Files/MicroStrategy/Desktop/XSLs, assuming you installed it in the default directory), refer to the MicroStrategy SDK documentation.

An HTML document must use the default stylesheet (default.xsl) for thresholds to be displayed as they are in Desktop or Web.

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