"...the intersection of writing, layout, and presentation"; was: Re: giving up on XML

Subject: "...the intersection of writing, layout, and presentation"; was: Re: giving up on XML
From: "David Neeley" <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 11:57:01 -0500

Chris Borokowski opined, among other things:

"While this is true, our job forms at the intersection
of writing, layout and presentation."

One of the ideas behind XML is to *remove* the steps of layout and
presentation from content and content creation. Once you have a valid XML
instance, apply a transform and change the layout and presentation.

It helps to remember the origin of SGML. Among the problems identified early
on, documentation for aircraft used by the Department of Defense often
included hundreds of manuals from many scores of subcontractors--each with
different layout and arrangement. That created an excessive amount of work
for line mechanics to dig through all this confusing mass to retrieve the
information they needed *right now*.

Therefore, the DoD instituted a project--led by IBM among others IIRC--that
ultimately produced SGML. Various government agencies began to require that
many kinds of products have technical docs in SGML, so that the departments
using the product could use their own DTD to produce standardized manuals
easier for their employees to deal with.

As I am sure you know, XML evolved originally to be a simplified structure
of which it was said to include "...the eighty percent of SGML that is
actually used but leaving out the 20% that makes it hard..."

This concept is why I have long been a fan of Lyx--since it goes a step
farther than other tools I have seen to divorce content from layout and
presentation. It is tremendously liberating to focus on the document content
and not to be worried about the "fiddly bits" of layout, while leaving
presentation to a choice at time of output.

In my opinion, a similar tool should be built for XML-based document
creation (Lyx is based upon TeX).

While I am, I confess, fascinated about typography and other layout arcana,
I also freely acknowledge that for many people dealing with a WYSIWYG
environment involves an inordinate amount of wasted time. Were I the
employer, I would *not* be pleased to pay the bills for that time.


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