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4915Re: [XSL-FO] Converters from Xerox Metacode/Compuset to XSL-FO

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  • G. Ken Holman
    Feb 9, 2004
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      At 2004-02-10 10:52 +1000, CRANSTON, Dalton wrote:
      >One of the barriers to transition from proprietary systems is the
      >of a suitable, cost effective migration path for pre-existing templates.

      That would be "for pre-existing proprietary templates" which, by
      definition, would make them difficult animals to find since they'd be the
      domain of proprietary vendors that may not have an interest in open solutions.

      >One of these systems is Xerox Autograph where we use DLS and Compuset
      >templates to produce statements etc. I have found Compuset to PDF
      >converters but really what I want is to be able to (somehow) convert the
      >templates to interim formats such as XML+XSLT (to produce XSL-FO)

      I believe that is a tough nut to crack, not because of any complexity that
      might be with XSLT and XSL-FO ... these are designed well for what they do
      and the meet a set of semantics designed and selected by the working group
      that developed the specification.

      >rather than to some end format as I would like to be able to then use
      >them at design time into the future.

      Gee, sounds nice, but won't it be difficult to map a vendor's proprietary
      choice of layout semantics to an open standard's choice of layout
      semantics? Certainly the end results of many of the concepts will be
      similar since both are producing a paginated output, but how it gets there
      is critically important because any expression you may have that follows
      the semantics of a proprietary solution would have to be interpreted and
      translated to an expression that follows the semantics of XSLT and XSL-FO.

      This is not to speak to the architectural chasm between tightly-bound
      formatting processors where the transformation task is intimately aware of
      the formatting task, and the XSL arm's-length architecture where all of the
      transformation has to be completed before any of the formatting can
      begin. You will have to find a way to map all of the proprietary semantics
      of on-the-fly status checking into XSL's semantics of formatting contingencies.

      One important question is: does the proprietary system have a concept of
      transformation of XML inputs to an output, or is it similar to a desktop
      publishing system of production of a final-form output?

      >Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions on this?

      (1) Manage your expectations ... without even knowing your proprietary
      systems, I suspect it will either take magic or human intervention to map
      diverse semantics.

      (2) If you can at the least produce a static XSL-FO instance representing
      the same output as that of a proprietary solution, then consider how
      LiterateXSLT (a free resource available from our web site) might help; it
      is an incomplete prototype of XSLT stylesheet inference engine. Using
      LiterateXSLT one makes a static snapshot of a completed transformation,
      then seeds that snapshot with triggers about transformation based on a
      representative XML input. A multi-step process then infers the XSLT
      stylesheet required for the XML input to generate the XSL-FO output. That
      XSLT stylesheet can then be used with multiple XML inputs. I developed the
      prototype long enough to satisfy some UBL work I was doing and then left it
      on the shelf for others since I don't have the resources to complete
      it. Others have found it useful.

      I hope this has helped.

      .............................. Ken

      Public courses: upcoming world tour of hands-on XSL training events
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      G. Ken Holman mailto:gkholman@...
      Crane Softwrights Ltd. http://www.CraneSoftwrights.com/f/
      Box 266, Kars, Ontario CANADA K0A-2E0 +1(613)489-0999 (F:-0995)
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