RE: Help with Docbook

Subject: RE: Help with Docbook
From: Chris Gooch <chris -dot- gooch -at- lightworkdesign -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 11:53:44 +0100

Mark Baker wrote:

DOCBOOK is a specific data format for which a number of specific tools
exist. The data format itself has its specific strengths and weaknesses. The
tools that work with DOCBOOK documents have their own specific strengths and
weaknesses. The DOCBOOK file format just happens to be expressed in XML (or
alternatively in SGML).

XML, on the other hand, is a specification for specifying tagging languages.
Tools exist to help you to design such tagging languages and to help you
develop applications to work with those languages.

Mark, if I get you right, you're saying that DocBook, being a set
of tags (expressed as an SGML DTD or XML Schema, or whatever)
is too general, and too similar in terms of semantics to the "tags"
(for want of a better) word provided by, say, Word, Frame, troff,
or LaTeX --- in other words, the semantics describe the logical
structure of a document, but not the meaning of the content?

If this is the case then I would agree that I have supposed that
I would want (when I eventually get time to migrate from LaTeX
to XML) to implement some extra tagging which would be meaningful
to me docs set (describing a programing SDK). For example
at the moment I use LaTeX which provides logical structure tags,
but I've ('cos LaTeX is expandable) added my own tags which
have semantic usefulness to me -- to mark up control variabes,
api functions, data types, and so on. However I had assumed
that it would make sense for me to adopt Simplified DocBook
and then add my further tags, as I see no need to re-invent wheels.

Or have I misunderstood your case?


PS. The advantage of having explicit logical / structural
markup (provided by DocBook) and the ability to
check for well-formedness (provided by XML parsers)
should not be understood --- whilst people can
still make mistakes with mark up, or abuse tags,
forget to apply tags, at least a certain set of mistakes
can be weeded out at this stage rather than in the
proofreading (I think of it as being equivalent to using
a strongly typed programming language weeding out
a set of possible programming errors at compile time
rather than relying on finding them at run time).
And at least the logical semantics are there; as
someone once said on comp.text.tex when
a newbie asked about translating a Word doc to
LaTeX, "you can't make a cow out of a hamburger".

Christopher Gooch, Technical Author
LightWork Design, Sheffield, UK.
SIGGRAPH 2003...Booth 3431...San Diego, California...29-31 July 2003


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