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Subject: Re: DOCBOOK-APPS: Re: DOCBOOK: xsl support for fo

Bob Stayton writes:
>On Tue, Feb 05, 2002 at 05:22:29PM -0500, Stefan Seefeld wrote:
>> When I 
>> tried apache's 'fop' tool to generate pdf from docbook (transformed with
>> the fo stylesheets), I got almost unusable results.
>Welcome to the club.  8^)
Indeed.  When I looked at the original output of the default stylesheets,
my first reaction was, "Well, that's a start...but at least it's hardcopy."

>> What is the actual status of the fo stylesheets ? Is it written with 
>> specific fo processors (and their limitations) in mind ? What fo tools 
>> do exist, are used by people, especially Open Source ones ?
>The DocBook fo stylesheets are in pretty good shape.
>That is, they produce mostly valid XSL FO output.
>There are still some bugs and missing pieces, and bug reports are welcome.

For me, the key to being happy with the output has been customizing them.
I looked at the documentation that's provided with the docs, along with
Dave Pawson's customization FAQ, (along with his FAQs for other topics).
I'd try some things, look at the output, look at the FO output the
stylesheets produced, go back and figure out what templates produced that
output, modify the templates, and iterate.  And reiterate. And...re-re-...

It's been a bit of a challenge, between figuring out how the stylesheets
are organized, how to customize them, learning XSL, learning FO, and
figuring out what FOP can and can't do.  But, it's getting easier, and the
results are getting better.

>But most of the problems are the fo processor backends,
>which are not yet fully conformant to the spec.

This is VERY much in accordance with what I've found.  Between features
which are not implemented, features which are implemented incorrectly, and
my own inexperience/ineptness with FO's, creating FO documents has
been...umm..."challenging".  However, with patience and persistence, by
reading the stylesheets, the FO spec, and looking up examples on the web,
it is possible to produce decent looking documentation, given some effort.

>Your open source choices are pretty much FOP and PassiveTex.  Neither
>produce perfect results yet, but I've found PassiveTex produces more
>usable results for my purposes.

I've been using FOP.  It has the advantage of portability among platforms,
(you don't have to worry about setting up TeX) but it doesn't produce as
good of output...at least not on the first try.  And you have to work
around its limitations.


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