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Subject: Re: [docbook-apps] DocBook Customization

Hi Eric,

the proposals are archived on the public DocBook TC list:

We are still considering the structures involved, so we welcome any 

I have a distinct interest in DocBook/DITA interoperability as well, so 
we will certainly try to enable interop where possible!

Thanks and best regards,


Scott Hudson	
Senior XML Architect

+1 (303) 542-2146  |  Office
+1 (303) 332-1883  |  Cell
Flatirons Solutions

Eric Johnson wrote:
> I'd like to know more about he modular DocBook stuff. Are there any
> early drafts of the proposal or information I could look at?
> Will it make interop between DocBook and DITA easier?  
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Scott Hudson [mailto:scott.hudson@flatironssolutions.com] 
> Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 9:23 PM
> To: Bob Stayton
> Cc: Eric Johnson; DocBook Apps ML
> Subject: Re: [docbook-apps] DocBook Customization
> If you want to "start" with a simplified version of DocBook, you should
> check out the Simplified DocBook DTD or the new Publishers schema. These
> are "official" customizations that minimize the number of elements.
> With the proposed Modular DocBook addition to the standard (likely
> v5.1), there soon will be a way to more easily work at a topic level
> while remaining in DocBook compliance.
> I second Eric's opinion that there is no DITA XSL: The Complete Guide,
> so the customization for DITA is much more challenging!
> Best regards,
> --Scott
> Bob Stayton wrote:
>> 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
>> bobs@sagehill.net <mailto:bobs@sagehill.net>
>>     ----- Original Message -----
>>     *From:* Eric Johnson <mailto:EMJOHNSO@progress.com>
>>     *To:* DocBook Apps ML <mailto:docbook-apps@lists.oasis-open.org>
>>     *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
>>     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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