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Subject: Non-proprietary vs. no-cost

Hey, David, thanks for bringing this up for discussion as I certainly do 
not want to be misleading and I could be far too close to the technology to 
accurately perceive it as others do.

I've changed the subject line to more easily identify this thread in the 

At 2004-05-23 12:07 +1000, david.lyon@tradalogs.com wrote:
> > I'm trying to promote getting away from proprietary
> > technologies by making these freely available.
>It might be worth having a think a bit more about what you are saying. One the
>one hand you are promoting cranesoftwrights, which I have no problem with, and
>then you are saying you want to get away proprietory, which is what you are
>making. That confuses me.

Help me to understand your confusion about the proprietary nature of the 
technologies so I can better describe what I thought I was doing.

I didn't realize I was making anything proprietary ... and there is no 
obligation to buy or contract anything from Crane, so I had hoped any 
"promotion" would be indirect (unless I perhaps rocked the boat by some 
explicit comments to Pedro in the context of my answer to his questions).

There are at least two (so far) open-source implementations of XSL-FO: FOP 
and xmlroff, and a large number listed at 
http://www.xmlsoftware.com/xslfo.html of commercial implementations of 
XSL-FO tools.

>Maybe you mean "no-cost" rather than non-proprietory.

No, I certainly did not want to rule out commercial implementations of 
XSL-FO ... because the stylesheets do not use any extensions and stick to 
raw standardized XSL-FO, I can "plug and play" different commercial 
implementations of XSL-FO to get my result.

It is precisely the non-proprietary nature of XSL-FO that gives me as a 
user the choice for any of multiple no-cost and full-cost implementations 
that may suit my particular environment.

Consider the importance of non-proprietary technologies in a full-cost 
solution:  what if I implement a commercial version of XSL-FO from vendor A 
and use PDF as my output.  All of a sudden I have to start producing 
100,000 printouts each day so I have to switch to an implementation that 
uses AFP as my output.  Had I selected a proprietary implementation of the 
expression of my layout requirements, I might have to re-implement my 
requirements in another proprietary implementation to get access to the 
faster print technology.  Having chosen a non-proprietary technology I can 
have a choice about implementations without having to jeopardize the 
investment in the non-proprietary expression of my requirements.  There are 
both PDF and AFP implementations of XSL-FO.

So, indeed, I did mean "non-proprietary" and I did not mean "no-cost".

>It just helps everyone if
>you can be more clear. Nothing wrong with a proprietory no-cost solution, look
>at winzip etc..

Okay, I think I see where you are getting at when you use that 
analogy.  But I've paid for my WinZIP software since I don't use it in 
evaluation mode (I long forget the splash screen for WinZIP but I thought 
that individuals using WinZIP by clicking on the three randomized-position 
buttons were acknowledging the use of the software in an evaluation 
mode).  To me using WinZIP isn't a "no-cost" solution.

Were you perhaps concerned by my choice of the Modified BSD License which 
requires my copyright to be maintained with any stylesheet files that are 
modified by users and used in any distributions?  Is that too much of an 
encumbrance to make the package of stylesheets out of reach to some?

>There certainly is going to be space for UBL document rendering software.

Indeed!  But when will vendors start embracing it with proprietary 
solutions?  By contributing a suite of unencumbered stylesheets that 
utilize an unencumbered technology, people can start working on the print 
aspects of their work with unencumbered UBL today.

And I don't want to exclude any proprietary implementations of UBL 
rendering solutions ... vendors were invited to participate in the Forms 
Presentation Subcommittee (FPSC) of UBL and though you don't see any of 
their names on the committee, as chair I fostered their access to the open 
specifications.  I don't know when we'll see proprietary implementations of 
UBL rendering solutions, but I'm confident we will.

There are a number of vendors on the UBL committees.  And vendors contacted 
the committee off-the-public-record for more information about the 
formatting specifications.

>However, at the moment, it's hard to get any company to commit to using UBL as
>the printing solutions are currently way too primitive. We have found, 
>that UBL
>needs some extensions to make it more saleable, and these can only be done 
>proprietory extensions.

Proprietary extensions to UBL or proprietary extensions to the printing 

Proprietary extensions to UBL are being addressed by the good work of 
contextualization being run by Eduardo.

Proprietary extensions to print technologies would be out of scope of the 
UBL committee and the participants in the marketplace can do what they wish 
from an implementation perspective.

The layouts I'm using for our stylesheets follow the formatting 
specifications developed by the FPSC committee and shipped with the UBL 
package, so nothing proprietary is being used there.  And, they aren't even 
normative renderings, merely informative examples of possible renderings.

>But generally, I agree with your philosophy to get some tools out there which
>will do the job.

I'm glad ... and I do enjoy the opportunity to discuss these issues 
publicly.  Perhaps I'm missing the mark by developing and making these 
XSL-FO stylesheets freely available, but I can't (yet) see how; I believe 
this unencumbered set of stylesheets for use with a non-proprietary 
technology will be of interest to some UBL users ... perhaps many UBL users.

And I'm having fun doing experimentation and new research in the area of 
stylesheet synthesis as this work has become fodder for conference 
presentations I've been making at the annual Extreme Markup conference for 
XML geeks.  Last year I presented on the LiterateXSLT environment and this 
year I hope to present on the ResultXSLT environment ... two generations of 
stylesheet synthesis that have evolved in the real-world situations 
presented by UBL.  Of academic interest for sure, but also proven as viable 
for real-world situations and, I believe, quite original approaches to the 
issues.  Both of these technologies are also made freely available from the 
"Free resources" area of our web site.

But I do apologize if any earlier comments to what we do as a company is 
perceived unfavourably as "promoting Crane".  Our volunteer work in UBL is 
totally unfunded and is not supported by any of our training customers or 
consulting clients (whooops!  There I did it again!).


Thanks again, David!

.......................... Ken

Public courses: Spring 2004 world tour of hands-on XSL instruction
Next: 3-day XSLT/XPath; 2-day XSL-FO - Birmingham, UK June 14,2004

World-wide on-site corporate, govt. & user group XML/XSL training.
G. Ken Holman                 mailto:gkholman@CraneSoftwrights.com
Crane Softwrights Ltd.          http://www.CraneSoftwrights.com/u/
Box 266, Kars, Ontario CANADA K0A-2E0    +1(613)489-0999 (F:-0995)
Male Breast Cancer Awareness  http://www.CraneSoftwrights.com/u/bc
Legal business disclaimers:  http://www.CraneSoftwrights.com/legal

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