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Subject: DOCBOOK-APPS: FO stylesheets compatibility with PassiveTex and Fop(was Re: Undefined control sequence from pdfxmltex)

>>>>> "-" == Bob Stayton <bobs@caldera.com> writes:


>> It seems to be right at the start of the fo where pdfxmltex bails
>> out. What could be the reason ?
>> I am using TexLive on Win2k.

-> The 1.52.2 XSL stylesheets are not working in PassiveTeX.  Try
-> using 1.51.1 for now.


May I make a humble suggestion to the Open DocBook Repository folks?
For future releases it would be *really nice* if in the RELEASE-NOTES,
you could include the current compatibility status of the XSL-FO with
respect to both PassiveTeX and Apache's FOP.  

I know that it's not the fault of DocBook that the FO->PDF processors
aren't in step or are incomplete with respect to the XSL-FO spec, but
it would be nice if you could at least have an explicit compatiblity

I can't tell you how many times I've got all giddy with excitement
over a new DocBook release, to find that it breaks in about 100 places
using PassiveTeX, and then I have to trawl through the mailing list
archive, and at the very end of a thread, there's a throw-away
comment, like, "oh yes, the current stylesheets don't work with this
version".  If I had know that in advance I could have stuck with the
existing version (at least for the FO output) and not waste time
tweaking .fo files.

Another suggestion: it is unfortunate that the stylesheets are held
hostage by the current incomplete implementations of the FO->PDF
processors, it effectively means that the FO sheets can't really be
fully tested without the complete XML->FO-PDF stage.  Would it be too
hard to add a 'compatibility' mode to the stylesheets for PassiveTeX
acceptable XSL-FO (like fo-patch-for-fop.xsl)?  

At very least, a description of the particular <fo:*> elements and/or
new XSL templates that have been newly introduced that are known to
cause problems with either PassiveTeX or Fop, so that I (or anyone
else) would know where to start looking when implementing a
workaround or a fo-patch-for-*.xsl compatibility stylesheet.

In the case of PassiveTeX, it almost always croaks somehow on tables
(and particularly so with >1.52.0 all those <fo:static-content>
page-master tables), so the changes should be reasonably

Again, I know that none of this is fault of the DocBook stylesheets,
but since FOP and PassiveTeX seem to be the only open-source FO->PDF
options out there, the stylesheets compatibility with these tools
should be considered part of the release process.  Other proprietary
tools (RenderX?) might do the job better than these two, but since
DocBook itself is open-source, it should first play nice with other
open-source tools in the toolchain.  The output from PassiveTeX, in
particular (especially the tex.math.in.alt feature is *very nice*!),
is good enough that it's possible to rely on it for most simple books
and articles.  So if I'm doing it, I suspect others are doing so too,
so it would be nice if the stylesheets could pay more attention to
tools compatibility because they *are* useable for generating good
quality printed (PDF) output, and have moved beyond the completely
"experimental" stage.


Sorry for the rant, but it's been something that's been bothering me
with the last few releases, because the output from XML->FO->PDF has
been getting better and better, and then breaks completely: "two steps
forward, one step backwards".

[Incidentally if either FOP or PassiveTeX break, how do you (i.e. Bob,
Norm etc.) actually test the XSL-FO are 'Doing the Right/Expected
Thing' in terms of the final printed output?  Do you rely on other
tools, or simply conformance with the written XSL-FO spec?]


(PS.  No need to Cc me on reply, because I can get access to the mailing
list as a newsgroup via news.gmane.org)

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