XSD vs XSL: Difference and Comparison

The internet plays a very huge role in everyone’s life because almost all the data that exists is available on the internet.

Documents and web pages on the internet are written in various codes including HTML and XML which have tools to configure them such as XSD and XSL.

Key Takeaways

  1. XSD (XML Schema Definition) defines the structure and constraints of XML documents.
  2. XSL (Extensible Stylesheet Language) transforms and styles XML documents.
  3. XSD enforces XML document rules, while XSL modifies the presentation or structure.


The difference between XSD and XSL is that XSD stands for XML Schema Definition and XSL stands for  Extensible Stylesheet Language. XSD is used to define the properties, structures, and data types for XML documents whereas XSL refers to a family of languages that describe how data is transferred and transformed in XML documents over the web.


XML Schema Definition is a W3C recommendation in which XML in itself is short for Extensible Markup language which is a set of codes and tags that is used to format data in webpages.

It is a reform introduced by the World Wide Web Consortium to introduce uniformity across web pages.

Extensible Stylesheet Languages are a family of languages used to stylize and format XML documents. The most popular XML is HTML which also uses XSL.

It is meant for transforming and rendering XML documents. Data color, font style, size, etc are stored in the XSL code and not in XML, to which it is applied.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonXSDXSL
UseIt is used to store the configuration of data and its presentation on web pages.It is a language used to maneuver through XML documents.
MeaningIt is a standardization made by W3C in the description of elements in XML.It is a family of languages used for expressing stylesheets.
DevelopmentIts first edition was published in 2001 and the second edition in 2004.It was first used in 1998 but a stable release in 2017.
DescriptionIt is basically an addition to support XML which in itself has very few rules.It is a language consisting of 3 parts namely XSLT, XPath, and XSL Vocabulary.
ImportanceIt is used to validate XML documents and make their format widely understandable.It transforms XSLT into HTML for display on a web page.

What is XSD?

XML Schema Definition is also sometimes only referred to as XML Schema. Its main purpose is to describe the overall structure of an XML document which then is used to make web pages.

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It was introduced by the World Wide Web Consortium in 2001. It constrains various elements of an XML document.

An XML Schema defines the legal building blocks of an XML document including elements and attributes, the number and properties of child elements,

the data types used for parent and child elements and attributes, and the default fixed values for the different elements and attributes.

It is important for web developers to know about XML Schema Definitions because a wide variety of XML formats are in use over the internet and most of them are defined by XML Schemas.

Therefore, to develop and better one’s own web page, the correct use, and understanding of XML Schemas are very important.

XML Schemas are innately meant to be used with XML source code, therefore, they provide great support for the XML documents.

XML editors can be used on XSL as they are written in the same language and XML Schemas also have great support for various data types and data patterns.

What is XSL?

XSL is a group of languages that all serve similar purposes.

They are meant for expressing style sheets. XSL style sheets describe how a web page has to be displayed along with its various properties such as fonts, sections, colors, etc.

XSL also contains a transformation language called the XSLT which is used for purposes such as processing XML data and generating HTML documents.

An XML document in itself does not contain any instruction to browsers on how to present the information which they have stored on them.

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This makes the use of XSL style sheets necessary which store instructions on how the matter has to be displayed on a web page. It also makes the rendering of XML documents faster.

Another benefit of using XSL style sheets is by storing the presentation information and core information separately, the document can be displayed on different displays such as computers, mobiles, tablets, etc.

and the viewers can choose to view the documents suited to their own preferences.

XSL has been pretty much replaced by CSS (Cascading Style Sheet languages) which is easier to use and maintain. CSS is also cheaper but has its limitations as well.

XSL was widely used up in the 2010s after which HTML replaced XML and XSL died.

Main Differences Between XSD and XSL

  1. XSL style sheets were introduced almost 5 years prior to the first official publication of XML Schema Definitions.
  2. XSL is used for the presentation of XML documents whereas XSD is used for defining the format and details of an XML document.
  3. While XSD is a recommendation of the W3C, XSL is an official language that makes its use mandatory.
  4. XSD is a part of XML itself and used to validate XML whereas XSL is a different route of study and is applied to XML documents.
  5. XSL has been out of use for many years and replaced by CSS whereas XSD is still a W3C reccomendation that is used while creating XML documents.
Difference Between XSD and XSL
  1. https://www.immagic.com/eLibrary/ARCHIVES/TECH/W3C/W090430S.pdf

Last Updated : 05 July, 2023

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8 thoughts on “XSD vs XSL: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I am so glad that this post is shining a light on the importance of the internet. Without it, we wouldn’t have access to so much information.

  2. I’ve always been interested in coding and web development. This article just made me understand even more the importance of learning the different codes and tools used in documents and web pages.

  3. While the post is quite informative, it seems to miss the updates on XSL and how it is currently being used today. This would be helpful information for the readers.

  4. It’s fascinating to see the historical background of XSD and XSL and how they have impacted web development over the years.

  5. I found the comparison table very helpful. It clearly outlines the differences between XSD and XSL in a succinct manner.

  6. I must disagree with the statement that XSL has been replaced by CSS. This is factually incorrect and shows a lack of understanding of XSL’s continued relevance. I propose that the author revisits this part and offers a more accurate representation.

    • Logan57, I agree with you. The sentiment that XSL has been replaced by CSS reflects a lack of deeper understanding of the subject matter.

    • XSL might not be as mainstream as it used to be but it still holds value in certain contexts. I think the writer should acknowledge that to offer a more balanced view.


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