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Subject: DOCBOOK: re: DocBook community of users

I had the same question, myself, in relation to my effort to justify my 
decision to use DocBook, at work.  This info is a little dated (about 2 
weeks, at this point):

I noticed the download statistics for the Sourceforge DocBook Modular 
Stylesheets project page.  In about the last 2 months, the DSSSL stylesheets 
have been downloaded about 3,600 times.  The XSL ones (disregarding the 
experimental 1.46 release) have about 2,600.  That suggests that as many as 
6,000 installations are actively tracking and using just these stylesheet 
packages!!  Furthermore, some projects like the Linux Documentation Project 
have their own customization and so they may count as only one download, 
even though they have hundreds (thousands?) of active participants.  
Finally, consider that these stylesheets are included with RedHat (at least 
in 7.x) as an rpm, so none of those users are even counted, here.  See for 

package      release      date                  .tar.gz      .zip
dsssl        1.74b        2001-11-29 21:00      43           11
             1.73         2001-09-28 21:00      2,566        1,078
             1.72         2001-08-05 21:00      1,300        738

dsssl-doc    1.74         2001-11-28 06:27      64           24
             1.73         2001-09-28 21:00      1,837        660
             1.72         2001-08-05 21:00      830          520

             1.47-exp     2001-11-27 21:00      96           46
             1.46-exp     2001-10-12 21:00      500          614
             1.45         2001-09-28 21:00      1,344        1,299
             1.44         2001-08-13 21:00      1,185        1,050

Of course, I have no doubt that maybe 30% to 60% of the downloads are 
individuals merely out to satisfy some casual curiosity about "this DocBook 
thing".  However, on the other end, you have cases like mine, where a dozen 
people are using infrastructure that I deployed from only one download.  I'm 
assuming that there probably aren't many who downloaded both the DSSSL 
stylesheets and the XSL ones.

Also, there are those who either use other tools for styling their DocBook, 
or aren't as proactive about keeping up to date on the latest DSSSL or XSL 

Finally, I think it's worth reiterating that there are other ways to get 
these stylesheets that won't be reflected in the above statistics (such as 
via RedHat RPMs).

Anyhow, good luck with your evaluation, decision, and justification.

I've got a partially-finished advocacy document and have barely started 
documenting my industrial-strength deployment strategy.  I plan to post 
these documents, when I finish them, but that may not be for a while.

In my opinion, what you really want to focus on is the benefit of using a 
DocBook-based documentation infrastructure (e.g. the potential for: 
revision-control, modular document partitioning, vendor and platform 
independence, scalability, rich semantics, auditing, repurposing for 
different media, decoupling of content and presentation, etc.) vs. the cost 
of deployment & maintenance and potentially augmenting the vocabulary to 
provide semantics better adapted to your field and customizing the 
stylesheets for the various media and styling requirements you've got.  I 
think the choice is obvious, for projects of any significant scale.  Also, 
it's worth noting that the bulk of the cost of using DocBook is incurred up 

Bare in mind, however, that the highly technical bias of myself an my fellow 
co-workers, who use DocBook.  To gain some of the benefits I mentioned, 
requires a well thought-out deployment by someone with some knowledge of 
large-scale system administration and experience in buildsystem engineering. 
  Though a UNIX-like environment is by no means necessary, people with such 
experience, in a UNIX environment, will tend to have a better handle on 
these sorts of issues and a means of dealing with them.  In the end, though, 
your usage model expectations/requirements are what really dictates the 
tradeoffs in which of benefits you can enjoy, and should be one of the 
primary drivers of your deployment strategy/architecture.

Matt Gruenke

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