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Subject: Re: [docbook-apps] Conversion: xml:lang not added to root element of Epub/XHTML1/XHTML5 files

Hi Bob and Dave,

One thing that has held me back from using DocBook is that the XSLT XHTML transformation results I have seen, has not been up to my expectations. So, thanks for your great feedback. See more below.

On 15 Feb 2017, at 8:37, Dave Pawson wrote:
On 15 February 2017 at 01:48, Bob Stayton <bobs@sagehill.net> wrote:
Hi Leif,
This can be easily done by adding the following to your customization layer:

<xsl:template name="root.attributes">
  <xsl:call-template name="xml.language.attribute"/>

This makes use of two utility templates. The 'root.attributes' template is
called right after the opening tag of <html>, and it should output
xsl:attribute elements.

The 'xml.language.attribute' will generate an xml:lang attribute name and

Thanks. This works very well. It even works for the lang attribute:
   <xsl:template name="root.attributes">
      <xsl:call-template name="language.attribute"/></xsl:template>

I'd like to hear from members of the mailing list about whether you think
this should be default behavior or not.

(1) According to the i18n community of the W3.org:

«Always use a language attribute on the html tag to declare the default language of the text in the page. When the page contains content in another language, add a language attribute to an element surrounding that content.»

See https://www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-html-language-declarations

(2) I try to follow the same attitude when I create a DocBook document: I declare the (main) document language on the root element.

(3) If this community agree that the XSLT sheet should declare the language on the <html> element, then, in addition, the XSLT sheet should stop declaring the language on the stand-in element for the DocBook root element (in this case, this means that the language should not be declared on the HTML <section class="article"> element). It is no error to repeat the declaration, but it is not necessary.

    Can this be can be avoided?

Fair request IMHO.


Every element? Suggest that is too much.

Of course. On every HTML root element, only: <html>. That is: The one and only <html> element. Anything else is too much - unless you need to override the language declaration on the root element (because the text switches to/from another language).

A parameter on the root element, then customisation thereafter perhaps? Pareto: suggest most documents will major in one language with (small?)
parts in another?


Btw, I think the main reason for the issuees we here discuss is the fact that the DocBook vocabulary does not match the HTML vocabulary. Which reminds me of another, perhaps minor, issue:

If the DocBook title element happens to be in German, while the document otherwise is in English (Example: <article xml:lang="en"><info><title xml:lang="de">Nein!</title></info>...</article>), then the XSLT sheet should declare the language on the <title> element: <html xml:lang="en" xmlns='http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml'><title xml:lang='de'>Nein</title> ....</html>. Currently, the language is declared on the stand-in element of the DocBook <title> element - namely the HTML <h1> element - but not on the HTML <title> element:

* Current result (when Bob’s customization layer is added):
	<html xml:lang="en" xmlns='http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml'>
	<body><section class='article'><h1 xml:lang='de'>Nein …

* Wanted result:
	<html xml:lang="en" xmlns='http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml'>
	<head><title xml:lang='de'>Nein</title></head>
	<body><section class='article'><h1 xml:lang='de'>Nein …
leif halvard silli

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