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Subject: Re: [docbook] Re: Ruminations on the future of DocBook

On Mon, Jul 14, 2003 at 11:38:58AM -0400, Norman Walsh wrote:
> / Adam Turoff <ziggy@panix.com> was heard to say:
> | Sounds to me like a good case for refocusing DocBook on the structural
> | markup consistently found in technical documentation.  Semantic
> | markup, to the extent that users *need* it, should be done through
> | auxilliary tagsets, so at least a measure of standardization is
> | preserved.
> The trick will be finding the right balance. If DocBook was reduced to
> just the barest bones of structure, then it wouldn't solve the needs
> of computer hardware and software documentation without extension and
> that would seem to be failure.

Maybe the problem isn't in the technical restructuring of DocBook, but
in the salesmanship of the restructured DocBook.

DocBook as it exists is a 400+ element DTD that suffers from "Inside Mac
Syndrome"[1].  Yet anyone who has used DocBook for a significant period
knows that you can't write a document of significant length witout using
<article>, <book>, <title>, <para>, <section>, <emphasis>, <literal> and
the like.  This forms the innermost kernel of DocBook.

Everything from there is an extension module that tackles one dimension
or another in the realm of technical documentation.

Therefore, DocBook++ is defined as this core tagset, plus a few core
modules for hardware/software, plus a reusable extension mechanism.  The
elements necessary for technical documentation are part of the pre-defined
grammar, but are clearly marked as a coherent group of related elements
for a specific domain.

One side benefit is that DocBook becomes easier to learn, extend,
style and use.  


[1] Inside Mac Volume I was a reference volume of 26 chapters, each
    written with the expectation that you have read and fully understood
    the other 25 before reading it.

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