Re: Help with Docbook

Subject: Re: Help with Docbook
From: Jan Henning <henning -at- r-l -dot- de>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 17:28:03 +0200

What I find particularly puzzling about the tendency to equate DOCBOOK with
XML is that people have the exact opposite prejudice in regards to HTML.

That is not puzzling at all. Consider these three crucial differences alone:

- HTML is not strict. That means that you cannot be sure that any HTML you receive follows given formal standards; it also means that you cannot be sure how your HTML will be interpreted. XML was specifically constructed to avoid that problem, which means that it is much easier to contruct autmoated tools for processing XML (and, by extension, DocBook).

- HTML is almost purely concerned with appearance. It does not provide for more than the most rudimentary semantics.

- HTML is not extensible in a well-defined manner. XML and DocBok are.

All this said, please remember that my original point was not that DOCBOOK
is good or bad but that adopting DOCBOOK is not the same thing as adopting
XML. Whether DOCBOOK is good or bad, it is good or bad on its specific
merits as a format and an associated set of tools, and not on the merits of

Adopting DocBook means adopting XML, specifically, a perticular convention based on XML. DocBook offers semantic structure for documents because of its XML roots. Word and unstructured FrameMaker do not offer this, although an approximation can be achieved given carefully contructed templates and extreme discipline on the part of the writers.

Jan Henning

Jan Henning
Am Schlossberg 14, D-82547 Eurasburg, Germany

Phone: +49 700 0200 0700, Fax: +49 8179 9307-12
E-Mail: henning -at- r-l -dot- de, Web:


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RE: Help with Docbook: From: Mark Baker

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