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Subject: DOCBOOK-APPS: passivetex improvements list

Following up on my "PassiveTeX Improvement Project",
I've distilled the responses down to these main issues
that I would like to pass along to its author:

1. Table improvements:
  - The '*' width specification is not working.
  - Reasonable default column widths.
  - Wrap within table cells.
  - Table borders (stylesheet issue?).

2. Keep with next (page breaks):
  - Section titles and first paragraph.
  - Figures and titles.

3. Installation difficulties (better now since TeX Live 7
has been released).

4. Large number of arcane TeX warnings that 
are hard to understand and even harder to do
anything about.

5.  Chokes on font-size="90%" attributes (used in footnotes).

Below are the original message bodies that provide details
and further explanations.

The one thing I would like Passivetex to do is to not require the need
for the column-width attribute in <fo:table-column>.  The current
DocBook stylesheets don't support this and you have to use extensions. 
It would be nice if Passivetex would have a couple of sane defaults for
the column-width attribute or to not make the attribute mandatory.

Another nice addition to Passivetex is to have the headings and
paragraphs together.  Right now Passivetex will put a heading at the
bottom of the page and put its corresponding paragraph at the beginning
of another page.  This is similar to how LaTeX groups the headings and

simple: it's /hard/ to install. Or in other words: I didn't manage
to install it.


- Difficult to set up. I'm not a TeXnician and we do not have the local
TeXpert in our small company. The set up works eventually but it seems that
it is very dependent on the tex setup on the box I'm using. So, I can manage
installing PassiveTex on one maching (e.g. under SuSE Linux) but then I'm
having the same problems on a RedHat System...

- When running PassiveTeX (for DocBook documents with Norm's
xsl-fo-stylesheets) I'm always getting errors. That's normally not too bad
(I do not expect to have a System where "everything" works) but I can't do
anything with the TeX-error messages. There's no indication of the fo-source
line (as far as I remember) and I had to process fragments to get to the
errors. So I wish there would be direct indication of the offending source
line and some reason in fo-terms why the error occured. As an alternative:
When it's not possible to do this there could be a (optional) dump of the
TeX source that was the result of the fo-file. For instance a mode or switch
that would allow just to produce TeX (and not processing it).

- I haven't been able to produce borders in tables. That was really a show
stopper in our company.

- I still get strange errors from my fo result when I try to transform
it with passivetex.

It also has some problems conerning tables:
- long textual entries aren't wrapped in several lines within a table
cell (using a parbox would emprove this).
- long tables should be split over several pages if neccesary (use of

1) the orphan and widow story:
   keep-with-next with chapter/section titles,
   the titles of figures,

2) table borders (top and left are missing) -- this renders
  coorect with fop:

    test | test |
    test | test |

But may be also a docbook xsl issue. In the XSL-FO source
I have seen only border-right-* and border-bottom-* attributes
in the fo:table-cell elements.
border-(left|top|bottom|right)-style="solid" attributes are in
the fo:table element.

3) enumerated lists in a table cell:

    left table cell     |                      |
                      1.|list item 1           |
                        |a discussion of item 1|
                      2.|list item2            |
                        |a discussion of item 2|

4) images with whitespaces in their file names
(for instance: 'the test image.png') render as follows:

                 |              |
                 |              |
   test image.png+--------------+

5) index entries
  5a) no indentation for secondary keywords:

xsl-fo snippet:
   <fo:block>Information<fotex:sort xmlns:fotex="http://www.tug.org/fotex"/>
   <fo:block start-indent="1pc">
     <fo:block>additional<fotex:sort xmlns:fotex="http://www.tug.org/fotex";>
      <fo:basic-link internal-destination="d0e6478">
       <fo:page-number-citation ref-id="d0e6478"/>

renders as:

additional 12

  5b) links to pages (but seems to work with the toc!):

    The 'clickable' area (the interactive link) is in the middle of
    the keyword and the page number citation (between additional and 12
    in the example above).

6) glossentry (fo:list-block in xsl-fo):

             a glossterm    a glossdef
       another glossterm    another glossdef
    a long glossdef not fitting    here is the third glossdef
      the last glossterm    the last glossdef

7) A lot of debugging(?) messages in the console window.
   Gone away after patching xmltex.tex at line 227/228

8) The conformance section of the website
   http://www.tei-c.org.uk/Software/passivetex/index.html refers
   to the outdated XSL draft specification of November 2001.
   Passivetex implements now the XSL recommendation.


PassiveTeX chokes on font-size=3D"90%" attributes. These are emitted by =
the docbook XSL stylesheets for footnote markers, and possibly other =
things as well. I currently rely on a sed hack to fix these things =
(converting them to hard-coded 9pt), but it would be nice to have proper =


Table support is the most commonly reported problem. I'm inclined to
think that the "best" way to fix this problem would be an extension
function that converted FO tables into something TeX was better able
to format. (I was talking to David Carlisle about this last night.)

Basically, it's hard for TeX to look far enough ahead to really get
all the spans and borders right. An extension that could do this and
produce something that told TeX more about the table "up front" would

Of course, it'd have to be programmed both at the XML level (as either
a pre-processor or a real XSLT extension function) and at the
PassiveTeX level, so it's no small task.

Bob Stayton                                 400 Encinal Street
Publications Architect                      Santa Cruz, CA  95060
Technical Publications                      voice: (831) 427-7796
Caldera International, Inc.                 fax:   (831) 429-1887
                                            email: bobs@caldera.com

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