Real-life SGML and Open Source (veering from MS bashing and other off-topic-isms)

Subject: Real-life SGML and Open Source (veering from MS bashing and other off-topic-isms)
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 10:41:25 -0600

Although MS-bashing is undeniably fun and entertaining, as
is speculating about the lifespan of useful software and the ulterior
motives of PR-types, it's probably a little tangential to the
purpose of this technical communication list. Likewise,
Open Source Software (usually in the form of Linux) keeps
popping up, but is also a bit far afield for this list.

However, let me steer back to technical communication
with a bit of trivia for you. I noticed the article on Open
Source Software and Technical Communicators in the latest
STC Intercom and noticed that one of the most interesting
angles for tech writers wasn't even addressed. (Actually,
I have several quibbles with the article, but they're not
appropriate for this list.)

IMHO, the really interesting angle for many technical writers
is that Linux documentation (HOWTOs and more) is produced
in SGML, using publicly available tools and industry-standard DTDs
(as much as such exist). The tools are available in source
form and should compile on Linux and most other UNIX flavors.

So, if you're looking for an excuse to tinker with Linux,
this might be enough oomph to get your boss to buy
into it and to give you something to do with that old
486 or Pentium 60.

For more information about Linux documentation, see

For more about some Open Source SGML tools, check out
(Yes, the project has been "discontinued", but with source
code available, it's not likely to stay that way.)


Eric J. Ray RayComm, Inc. ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com

*Award-winning author of several popular computer books
*Syndicated columnist: Rays on Computing
*Technology Department Editor, _Technical Communication_

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