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Subject: RE: [docbook-apps] Need recommendations for the best modern Linux backendtools for DocBook

On Tue, 23 Nov 2010 15:06:42 -0800 (PST), "Alan W. Irwin"
<irwin@beluga.phys.uvic.ca> wrote:
> On 2010-11-23 22:55+0100 Mauritz Jeanson wrote:
>> dblatex can produce DVI: http://dblatex.sourceforge.net/.
> That sounds like a most interesting approach since it transforms to
> latex.  The dvi, PostScript and PDF results are then produced from
> that latex source using native latex, dvips, etc. tools which I am
> familiar with.  Has anybody compared dblatex results for PostScript
> and PDF to what you get with a FOP-based approach? (I will obviously
> be doing that comparison myself when I get a chance, but I am curious
> about what other's comparisons have shown as well.)

I haven't done a *comparison*, but we routinely use dblatex + XeTeX (= a
Unicode-aware version of LaTeX) to produce multi-lingual PDF documents.  We
chose this route because it wasn't clear that the FOP route would deal well
with some of the scripts we needed, such as the Nasta'liq version of the
Arabic script.  

We have been well satisfied with dblatex.  Despite its current version
number (0.3), it seems to be stable and reasonably complete.  (Disclaimer:
there are a lot of DocBook elements that we are not using, so we haven't
done a thorough test.)  Once you get the hang of it, it seems reasonably
easy to modify, which we have needed to do because of some additional XML
elements we added.  That isn't to say it's perfect; in the last two weeks,
I seem to have run into two bugs, or at least incomplete features: one
having to do with captions on long tables, the other being the fact that
the XSL template for the <entry> element forgot to check whether the
'valign' attr was specified on the <tbody> (or <thead> or <tfoot>) element.
As usual, fixing the problem was much easier than finding it.  Fixing it
was of course made possible by the fact that the software is open source

In order to modify it you have to understand XML (of course), XSLT, and
LaTeX; any XSL templates you define automatically override the
corresponding dblatex-supplied templates.  XSLT is still not my favorite
programming language...  There are of course a number of things you can do
without modifying the program, by using command line parameters or LaTeX
style sheets.  I believe most of these are modeled after the corresponding
XSL-FO parameters, but not having used the latter I can't say for sure.

The author of dblatex, BenoƮt Guillon, has historically been quick to
respond to queries and bug fixes on the mailing list.  However, the list
seems to have gone silent recently, apart from my two bug fix posts. 
(Maybe they're sparing me embarrassment by not pointing out that my fix was
wrong and/or the feature was already there :-).)

   Mike Maxwell

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