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Subject: Re: [docbook-apps] DocBook Customization

Title: DocBook Customization
Hi Eric,
My impression is that many groups adopt DITA because they want to work in topics rather than chapters. Then they do whatever is needed to use DITA to write topics. I have been in contact with more than one group that has adopted DITA without any DTD customization.  As you say, people often do crazy things.  8^)
One common DocBook customization practice is to cut down on the number of elements.  There are several reasons why: 
a.  When using an XML editor that presents a list of valid tag names, the list can be quite long in many contexts (such as inlines).  Many such elements are never to be used, so remove them from sight.
b.  Reducing ambiguity in choosing among similar elements.
c.  Reducing the complexity of a stylesheet customization. If you know you are only supporting certain elements you don't need to have templates for all elements.
d.  Reduce the complexity of the para element by removing block element children (making it like simpara).
It is possible to make a subset that still produces documents that validate with the full DocBook schema. But of course not the other way around.
In terms of the cost of customization, I have found customizing the DocBook 4 DTD to be easier than customizing the DITA DTDs. In DITA's DTDs, everything is a twice-removed parameter entity, and it is hard to keep track of where an element is actually declared and what children it can contain.  DocBook 4 uses parameter entities, but not to such a complex degree.  DocBook 5's RelaxNG grammar is even easier to customize, once you learn the grammar.
Bob Stayton
Sagehill Enterprises
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 5:11 AM
Subject: [docbook-apps] DocBook Customization

I was talking to someone last night and they mentioned that the biggest use case, and the one that is causing everyone to flock to DITA, for using DocBook is to take the schema and then customize it.

My first reaction was to think "That's completely crazy. This person is obviously just a DITA cultist and seeing the world through tinted lenses." Then the cynic in me piped up and said "People often do crazy things."

Is this a big use case in the DocBook world? Do organizations start with standard DocBook and then tweak it around to make some customized version of the schema that is no longer DocBook?

Why would an organization customize DocBook instead of adopting DITA which is built with the (almost) requirement that it be customized?

What is the cost of doing the customization?
One of the reasons my group adopted DocBook was that the schema did not need to be customized. We had to create a few guidelines around using certain tags, but that was much easier than modifying the schema. Perhaps in larger groups using the schema to enforce rules is more desirable.

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