.XSL File Extension

XML Stylesheet

Developer W3C
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What is an XSL file?

An XSL file is a stylesheet used to transform the content of an .XML document. The styling information the file contains is written in the XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) format, which is an extension of XML. Typically, XSL files are used to transform one or more XML documents into .HTML content, for use as a webpage.

More Information

Screenshot of a .xsl file in Microsoft Visual Studio Code
XSL file open in Microsoft Visual Studio Code

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) created the XSLT markup language in 1998. Using XSLT stylesheets and an XSLT processor, users can:

  • Add, remove, rearrange, and sort elements within an XML file
  • Transform an XML file's content into other types of content, such as HTML, plain text, or PDF documents

For example, a web developer who wants to show an XML dataset on their website could:

  1. Create an XSLT stylesheet that defines how their dataset should be translated to an HTML table.
  2. Use an XSLT processor and their stylesheet to transform their XML dataset into a formatted HTML table.

XSLT stylesheets may be saved as XSL or .XSLT files. Officially, W3C now recommends that XSLT stylesheets be saved as XSLT files. Thus, XSL files likely contain old XSLT stylesheets, created before W3C made this recommendation.

NOTE: XSL files may also contain formatting information written using the XSL Formatting Objects (XSL-FO) language, which is another extension of XML.

How to open an XSL file

You can open an XSL file with Microsoft Visual Studio Code or any other text editor. However, if you intend to edit an XSL file's contents, you should open the file in a dedicated XML editor. XML editors provide helpful syntax-highlighting, editing, and validation tools that make working with XSL files easier.

Some popular XML editors include:

Programs that open XSL files

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