re: Giving up on XML

Subject: re: Giving up on XML
From: "Sean Hower" <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com>
To: <eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 10:20:43 -0700

> Eric Dunn wrote:
> Except, once again, DocBook *IS* XML. Unless you're using the SGML DocBook.

Of course, you're right about DocBook being XML. I was trying to make the point that just because DocBook doesn't work for you, that doesn't automatically mean that all XML solutions will not work either. The initial complaint seemed to be mostly about DocBook. Hence, my suggestion about taking a look at Apache Forrest or DITA (I have no experience with DITA, so I don't know how similar DocBook and DITA are).

Does that make sense?

> Let's have a really intelligent discussion and split each thought to the
> thread in which it belongs.
> What are the advantages/disadvantages of the Docbook DTD.
> What are the advantages/disadvantages of various editors.
> What are the advantages/disadvantages of various validators/parsers.
> What tools are available for Docbook, what toolsets are available.
> What are the advantages/disadvantages of these toolsets.
> How customisable are the toolsets.

Sounds great.

To your list of questions I would add advantages/disadvantages of stylesheets, especially if you're addressing the DTD specifically. But now that I'm thinking about it, are there multiple stylesheets for the same output for the DocBook DTD? I'm not talking about different stylesheets for different outputs. For example, if you want to create a pdf, are there different stylesheets to accomplish this--outside of customizations? It's been a while since I've worked with DocBook so I don't remember what's out there and am not familiar with what has come out since.

Honestly, though, I think a great deal of frustration comes from the lack of an out-of-the-box, end-to-end solution for using docbook and all that goes along with it (tools, stylesheets, parsers, blah blah blah) to create documentation. And I'm talking about something as simple as performing a single install to get everything working. I never found anything like that and it was really my own stubburness, and desire not to be defeated by software, that got me to the point that I had everything working. I could be wrong on this, of course, but this issue should also be addressed.

There is one thing that is really apparent though, people still don't understand XML or what it should be used for. I'm not sure, though, that diving into the technical details to clarify technical points would be helpful to someone who hasn't grasp some of the high-level concepts. Any discussion should be framed in a common reference otherwise you're (and I don't mean you specifically) speaking in gibberish and the audience will just tune out and miss the important stuff. Right?

Sean Hower - communications specialist

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