How do people normally write generic XSLT without
They do use variables.
the restriction on not using variables in patterns was a half baked
attempt to avoid circularity in variable definition (a variable's
definition might depend on patterns) but it is more of a syntactic
irritation than a real restriction.
instead of doing
you can do
so you can always get the same effect with a bit of effort (which means
that the restriction doesn't prevent circular definitions and so is in
fact useless, XSLT2 drafts have dropped this restriction
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