I've been looking at Amazon for books on XHTML. There are several good ones
it seems. Does anyone have any thoughts on/experience with the O'Reilly or
Also as an HTML novice what do people think about using it to create
documentation in? At the moment I write everything in Word and then save it
as HTML. This works OK but it creates work I'd like to avoid doing.
Lastly I've seen references to XSL and know from the archives that people
are creating their documents in it. What are the advantages over doing them
in Word/Framemaker etc?
Now you've opened Pandora's box.
First, there are not authoring tools that allow you to work directly in HTML or XML. At least not with the ease of use that you experience with Word or FrameMaker.
Additionally, you are now looking into structured documentation. XML is very sensitive to structure. So you need to learn about it.
XML translation, since it is structured, does not work as well from unstructured documents. In other words, if you want to use XML, you really need to use a tool that produces structured documents, in this case FrameMaker + SGML. It is the most cost effective tool. When you translate an SGML document to XML, it retains the structure.
XHTML is an offshoot of XML. XML has a host of other supporting technolgies (XPATH, XSL, and others). XSL and XSTL allow you to create style sheets for your document, or translate the XML into another format, such as HTML, RTF, or other formats. You have to write the style sheet yourself.
If all you want to do is display the text online, you are making more work for yourself than you need. Structured documentation is best used for more complicated tasks, where you need to transform the data, reuse the data, share the data in different formats or places and ensure that the data structure remains the same.
NOTE that I at no point said anything about formatting the appearance of the document. This is separate from structure.
As to structure, it must be well-formed, which is what HTML conforms to, and preferably valid. This is means that you have to create a DTD (Document Type Definition) to describe the structure. And your document must conform to it.
Remember that HTML is a viewing technology that allows the viewer to determine how it appears. XML is a structuring technology. There are no viewers that display XML like browsers do HTML. It must be transformed to be viewed, otherwise you get a tree view (showing the structure of the data).
Confused? It is complicated. Read the O'Reilly books. They are usually very good. Don't jump into XML until you know what it can do, and whether it is what you need.
*** Deva(tm) Tools for Dreamweaver and Deva(tm) Search ***
Build Contents, Indexes, and Search for Web Sites and Help Systems Available 4/30/01 at http://www.devahelp.com or info -at- devahelp -dot- com
Sponsored by DigiPub Solutions Corp, producers of PDF 2001 Conference East, June 4-6, Baltimore, MD. Now covering Acrobat 5. Early registration deadline April 27. http://www.pdfconference.com.
You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit http://www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/ for more resources and info.
Search our Technical Writing Archives & Magazine