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Subject: Re: [docbook] An apology and some minor revelations

Scot W. Stevenson wrote:

> First, I have been thinking of DocBook too much in terms of a LaTeX-like 
> system, where there is an actual program (well, link) with the same name 
> that (for the casual user) did all the magic to get from the source file to 
> the finished DVI. The idea that DocBook is "only" a language, not a system, 
> and that the "other stuff" are add-ons that must be considered independently 
> still seems a very, very strange way to do things, but does come sort as a 
> revelation.

you may think of it this way: if the language was tied to a single processor
implementation it would create an (for the user) undesirable dependency.
Think of MS Work to see the problem. Latex is somewhat special because
the processor is free software and portable.

> Second, I hadn't quite realized that DocBook XML is a form of XML and not a 
> "übermarkup-language" that just happens to be realized in XML or SGML or 
> something else without having to change the text itself. This does come as 
> sort of a disappointment, but that serves me right for hoping for a magic 
> bullet. I still don't have to like those XML-related lines I guess, but now 
> at least I know why they are there.

Well, being 'just XML' has a number of advantages. Being able to process it
with docbook-agnostic XML tools (which are more and more widespread) is a
big win. Also, you may do other things with these documens than just formatting
them. Anything you can do with xml you can do with docbook.

> There are still parts that don't make sense to me -- the <emphasis> tag, for 
> example, doesn't seem to fit. I can write a book, a section, a chapter, a 
> paragraph, a list, a quote, even a programlisting, but I can't "write" an 
> emphasis. This still seems like a formating command if I ever saw one.

<bold> would be about formatting, as would <italic>. <emphasis> is semantic
markup, which, of course, maps often predictably to specific formatting.


> I still can't find a docbook.xsl (and I don't seem to have a "locate" command 
> on this system). If it is any comfort to Daniel, this is a SuSE 8.2 setup 
> I'm having trouble with. It seems that they replaced jade by openjade and 
> quite a few loose threads remain; and yes, I've logged an error report.

you may try a non-free-but-freely-accessibly tool that may make your life
a bit easier. http://www.xmlmind.org has nice xml processing tools, such as
an editor ('xxe') and a processor ('xfc').
If you are prepared to pay for the 'professional edition' you'll get everything
integrated so you really just have to click a button to generate pdf/rtf/html
output. It has all the docbook dtd and xsl files integrated in the package...

We bought it for our company and it really helps to let people that are not
familiar with xml appreciate the power of docbook.


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