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Subject: Re: Show off what you've done with Docbook

I just wanted to thank Katie for documenting her travails in setting up a toolchain on Windows with outputs in PDF using FOP.

Two years ago for a client, I did all the source in docbook, but I had to document the process for setting up the environment and toolchain for processing everything for IT administrators  people who were not technical writers.

I spent a good bit of time flailing around, hitting roadblocks and realizing that it wasn't something I could do easily (especially with FOP). The initial plan was to set up a VM for them, but eventually we just decided that the company would buy an Oxygen license to do the processing.  That was easier for everybody.

My main attraction to docbook was being able to do epub + HTML output for creative fiction -- although obviously I appreciate its ability to do other help formats and PDFs. As strange as it sounds, I like the ability to push a button and create a bunch of static HTML pages without needing to put everything into a PHP-based CMS (which would require constant applying of security patches).

Because I'm dealing with literary texts, obviously TEI offers a richer semantics for academic types, but as of 5 years ago there wasn't really good XSLT or tools to output into epub.

In the world of small ebook publishers (not the Big NY ones), the preferred method of producing epub files was to write  HTML source and then write regular expressions to modify the HTML files globally. This really seemed clumsy in comparison with Docbook's method -- especially when you remember that Docbook has stuff for generating TOCs, indices, etc. Also, small ebook producers would have to worry about validating epub files with the .opf, .txc files which Docbook generates automatically (although I still have to move image files manually into he output directory).

By the way, I found John Shipman's docbook  website (which he linked to on a previous email) really helpful -- and  can't wait to look over  Thomas Shraitle's website for extra tips. I agree with John that having a PDF with the HTML makes it easier to read through and make sure you're not overlooking anything in the HTML content. Speaking of Bob's Docbook XSLT  book, even though the whole book is online, I find that reading from the printed copy made some topics "pop out" that I had previously overlooked when perusing the book online.

Robert Nagle

Robert Nagle
3000 Greenridge Dr #2204, Houston TX 77057-6037  
(Cell) 832-251-7522   Carbon Neutral Since Jan 2010

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