Rant: Giving up on XML

Subject: Rant: Giving up on XML
From: siliconwriter -at- comcast -dot- net
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com (techwhirlers)
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 01:38:13 +0000

After weeks of research, reading and studying, I'm throwing in the towel on XML. I was really hoping I could use DocBook to turn the output of our code documentation software into a manual, but no such luck. The output from our software (Doxygen) is so idiosyncratic, so impossible to tweak, that I've been unable to change the page size from A4 to US letter. I tried using DocBook, only to find that the learning curve is steep, undocumented and tricky. Doxygen uses LaTeX as its output engine, and a creakier, more poorly documented, unnecessarily complicated piece of software I have never seen.

So I'm actually going back to MS Word. There are not enough words in English to say how much I loathe and despise Word, but I can't justify spending weeks and weeks more trying to figure out how all the puzzle pieces of XML, DTDs, XLSTs and other alphabet soup fit together. I'm not interested in becoming a programmer in order to do my job, which is writing manuals, not coding stylesheets. My company already sprang for InDesign (which bombed big time), so I have no hope of persuading them to go to Framemaker, which I don't want to do anyway. So, it's back to Word. *head desk*

Until now, I was an eager devotee of open source software. I was trying to move all our documentation into OpenOffice and other open source software. Now, not so much. I no longer trust open source, I find it extremely poorly documented from an end-user point of view, and it never, ever has all the features I need. The learning curve resembles a vertical wall.

If any of you fellow tech writers who actually UNDERSTANDS XML ever gets around to documenting it so that technically savvy but non-programmer audiences can understand and/or use it, I will be very grateful.

Thanks for listening.

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