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Subject: DOCBOOK: automatic generation of revisionflag attribute,for generation of change bars

Here's the problem:
I want to automatically generate change bars, between two arbitrary versions 
of an XML DocBook document, but I have no interest in manual use of the 
'revisionflag' attribute.  Not only do I regard manual use of 'revisionflag' 
as clumsy, I have good reason to rule it out, as an option.

Requiring manual use of 'revisionflag' would be unacceptable, since my 
documents are composed of certain common components that get released in 
independent documents.  Furthermore, some of these components are 
automatically generated, making manual use of the 'revisionflag' attribute 
virtually impossible.

To give a more specific example, we release multiple software applications 
that depend on a core library to provide a significant portion of their 
functionality.  We need such documents as the release notes (and other 
internal documents) to provide a means of easily discerning any functional 
(or implementation, in other docs) changes since the previous release of the 
application, including those changes to the core library, which have 
accumulated over the period since the previous release of a specific 

My solution:
To determine the types of structural differences I'm interested in 
capturing, writing an XML-based diff tool (if one doesn't already exist), 
writing XSLT to consume the diff tool output + the document and produce a 
temporary (i.e. diff'd) document with the revisionflag attributes properly 
set, and use whatever stylesheets are most appropriate for rendering the 

Does anyone see any problems with the above proposal (other than the 
challenges of writing a tree-based diff tool that produces output suitable 
for an XSLT stylesheet to properly set the 'revisionflag' attributes)?  Does 
anyone have a simpler suggestion that'd still meet my requirements?  Is 
anyone aware of some subset of this solution that's already been 
implemented, besides the output stylesheets?

BTW, if a suitable one doesn't already exist, I plan to limit the cases my 
xmldiff tool handles, in order to simplify the implementation and improve 
the computational characteristics of the problem.  Also, making it DTD-aware 
would increase the implementation complexity, but significantly reduce the 

Also, I regard it as a testament to the power of XML that my proposed 
solution is not only possible, but as generally applicable to similar sorts 
of problems as it is.  Common syntax for specifying the structure of data 
truly is a wonderful idea, and one of the biggest step forward, in 
computing, since standardized encoding of character data.

Thanks, in advance, for any help.

Matthew Gruenke

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