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Subject: Re: DOCBOOK-APPS: Best tool for DocBook

Hi Bob,

Thank you for a cogent and considered response. I only have a couple of
minor quibbles.

You wrote:

I almost regret having entered this discussion, since I can't claim to
be knowledgeable on any editor for DocBook other than Emacs, not having
used any other.

I know how you feel. This set of editors is all pretty new to me, too. I
came to DocBook from a few years of writing SGML in Arbortext's Adept and
several years of writing HTML and JavaScript in Notepad+. (My fiancee, a
dedicated Arachnophilia user, thinks I'm nuts. I just don't like HTML
editors; it's not rational, just a preference.)

I only wanted to point out that although the learning
curve is practically vertical for Emacs, there are benefits.  Perhaps I
misunderstand your points here, but I'd like to offer a brief response:

> I would argue that (2) the Emacs/psgml control key
> functions are stone knives and bear skins compared to the tags-on markup
> modes of XMetal and Epic.

I find keyboard control very useful, and any editor that has it as an
option is better for it--more choice.  I agree that it takes time to
learn the essential key commands, and perhaps Emacs goes a bit overboard
in that direction.  However, I find that once they are internalized they
come automatically, but no matter how easy it is the first time to click
my mouse on a menu item, it takes the same amount of effort each time,
and the necessary motor-control can't internalize to the same degree.

Yes, but Epic and XMetaL both offer control-key shortcuts *in addition* to
user-friendly buttons, pulldown menus, and pop-up menus. XMetal even allows
you to have an active list of both elements and attributes during the
entire editing session. No matter where my cursor is, I can always see both
all the permissible elements for that node and the attributes for the given

> I would argue that (1) a good tool doesn't require the user to write a
> of macros to make it user friendly

I would say that a good tool offers the ability to customize it to suit
the user's needs.  Macros cut my work to less than half, and I don't
think there are any editors available that have, built-in, the specific
functionality that I need.  If other editors have simple, powerful macro
capabilities equal or better than Emacs, that's great.

I agree that editors should be customizable to some degree. I don't think
any two writers will agree, however, on what that degree is. From what I've
seen, Epic, XMetaL, and epcEdit all offer an impressive range of
customizable functions. The biggest drawback for Epic and XMetaL is that
they are not available on Linux.

Finally, I think most people on this list would agree that no matter
which tool we choose (or are stuck with) there is plenty of room for
improvement.  Perhaps this discussion will bear fruit in giving tool
developers an idea of the diverse needs of the DocBook editing

Agreed. Again, thanks.

Dennis Grace

IBM Information Developer
(512) 838-3937  T/L 678-3937  cell: (512)-296-7830

If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

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