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Subject: Re: DOCBOOK-APPS: Re: [Fwd: [Fwd: First Open Source DocumentationSummit at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention]]

I don't mean to complain or to sound negative here, but maybe there's
too much detail being left as an exercise for the reader ...  I'm just
trying to understand the process.

>>>>> "S" == Sebastian Rahtz <sebastian.rahtz@computing-services.oxford.ac.uk> writes:

    S> the shortest path is a formatter than reads XML and writes
    S> PDF. curiously. TeX is that animal, sort of. But it is not good
    S> at transformation.

It seems to me there is a great deal more to rendering a page than to
string fonts together into horizontal scan lines.  You need only
compare the output from LaTeX with MsWord to see which one uses more
typographic knowledge.  An XML->PDF translator needs to account for
hyphenation, ligatures, and all those things which are very mature in
LaTeX.  Agreed, LaTeX is an awkward beast to port, but isn't it easier
to port LaTeX than to re-invent it from scratch.

As someone else pointed out, it is hard enough to get developers to
work on documentation itself, and practically impossible to get them
to work on documentation infrastructure, especially where there is
already even an awkward solution.

    >> That raises the question: What is the _shortest_ path to
    >> DB->Print?

    S> Framemaker etc

Ah ... ok, the shortest _affordable_ path ;) I gather from this that
the actual answer is "there are no known paths for less than $500"

    S> xmltex is a set of TeX macros that let it parse XML
    S> natively. yes, of course it can do 700 pages

I checked this out this afternoon and while it is a pretty nifty kit,
the only way to use it is to reinvent hand-crafted DocBook stylesheets
in "XMT" ... I could not find any reference for transforming XSL to
XMT, so it appears that xmltex could not, as it sits, parse _any_
DocBook; it has potential, but no work has been done to move in that

For the curious, xmltex comes with an XMT file for TEI --- the docs
were too scant to figure out how to install this so you can keep just
one copy of the XMT and CFG files; all these must be in the current
directory.  There probably is a way to make them available system
wide, but all the docs say is to "copy the way the LaTeX command is
implemented".  Like JadeTeX, xmltex appears to be more a proof of
concept than a general purpose tool.

    >> answer in Xalan or Xerces or one of those other questionably
    >> pronounceable java tools? ;)

    S> good tools, but they are not formatters. FOP is the formatter
    S> and its not as good as TeX - yet. it may be one day. they
    S> havent even started on hyphenation yet

This sounds like FOP is not a formatter either, but intends to be one

    S> Xalan, Saxon, Oracle, XT etc are robust and reliable XSLT
    S> implementations. there are no seriously reliable XSL FO tools
    S> ...
    S> i'd say that the XML tools are more or less as good as the SGML
    S> ones. Norm's Docbook stylesheets are not as mature, but getting
    S> there. HTML generation is as good. theer is no RTF generation

I can live without RTF, but stylesheets do not generate files,
formatters do.  Stylesheets are just specs to be given to a formatter
to do the rendering and it appears as though there are no free
formatters which read these XSL files, only a promise that FOP may
someday do this. 

Since the DocBook XML files are (IIRC) XSL files and there are "no
seriously reliable XSL FO" tools, then isn't the answer to "Can I
print DocBook XML?" also "no"?  Or are the XSLT tools, which are said
to not be formatters at all, sufficient to produce commercial quality
output?  I'm confused.

    S> do any reputable publishers still specify LaTeX????

Last I was asked, admittedly some time ago, the Oxford University
Press still gave LaTeX stylesheets.  A few others gave options of
LaTeX or MsWord (some choice!!) --- all the _trade_ publishers I know
only offer MsWord templates although I know of two (Some Pearson and
ORA projects) who accept DocBook directly.  

I have a problem coming up where I have a chapter written in DocBook
to submit to a publisher who wants StarOffice ... the only paths I
know are RTF or HTML, and it is questionable which of those two will
be less lossy.

    S> a high level Docbook to LaTeX transform really is a separate
    S> project from the generic DB->print. doing it might be useful;
    S> it would be trivial, once you decided what the mapping was

Trivial, but tedious: It doesn't sound like a weekend project to me ;)
If it is trivial, though, and FOP is barely off the ground, then isn't
the shortest path to print DocBook still DB/SGML->LaTeX->DVI?

Is it true that there is no known way to generate quality print
material from DocBook without expensive commercial tools, and no way
at all to generate commercial quality print material from DocBook XML?
Is jadetex another netscape navigator that we all hate to use but have
no other alternative? ;)

Maybe I am just getting lost in acronyms again.  The real question I
want to answer is must simpler: Given a DocBook XML source file, what
are the shell commands to generate a printable output at least as good
as DocBook SGML through jadetex?

Gary Lawrence Murphy <garym@teledyn.com> TeleDynamics Communications Inc
Business Innovations Through Open Source Systems: http://www.teledyn.com
"Computers are useless.  They can only give you answers."(Pablo Picasso)

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