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Re: [xml-doc] DocBook Future

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  • Norman Walsh
    ... Hash: SHA1 [ I ve been resisting temptations to reply to the DocBook futures threads that I started until they settle down a bit and I have a chance to
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 6, 2003
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      [ I've been resisting temptations to reply to the "DocBook futures"
      threads that I started until they settle down a bit and I have a
      chance to consider them carefully. But I'll pipe in here partly to
      point out that I don't always keep up with this list, so I encourage
      you to take DocBook discussions to the docbook@...-open.org
      list. ]

      / Binisiya <binisiya@...> was heard to say:
      | The real value of DocBook was as a focal point for
      | people to think about what documents are in a
      | structured way with the feedback available tools
      | made possible.
      | The failure of the effort seem to stem from the
      | failure of chief contributors to recognize that the
      | multi-dimensionality of documents is not well served
      | in a one-dimensional design, and that the technology
      | could, in fact, support a multi-dimensional approach.

      If you're suggesting that DocBook's scope could be made broader,
      extending beyond computer hardware and software documentation to, for
      example, literary criticism, botanical journals, historical fiction,
      and modern peotry, you might be right. In fact, I think moving to
      RELAX NG might make this a lot easier (quick, am I going to submit
      this as a paper for XML 2003? I have a couple more hours to decide, I
      guess), but as one of the maintainers I think there's *a lot* of value
      in having a narrow scope.

      One of the most persistent complaints about DocBook is that it's too
      big and too complex. I don't know if that's true or not, but lots of
      people have said it, and I expect yet more will. The ability to say
      that we won't consider a proposal to add markup for new domains helps
      keep the "creeping featurism" to a minimum.

      | All the nits seem to flow from that failure.

      Can you elucidate further what multi-dimensional approach you think
      would be better and how it would address the "nits". (And what nits do
      you mean, exactly?)

      | A revision of DocBook would be welcome however I doubt
      | that it would get very far because of its "Winnebago"
      | design (throw everything, including the kitchen sink,
      | in to the mix) which has helped make it fairly popular
      | and useful in a quick, out-of-the-box but, ultimately,
      | limited way. There are probably just too many vested
      | interests to allow the sort of radical change that
      | would be called for.

      Uhm. I dunno. Remarkably few people have responded to my ideas with
      cries of "blasphemer!" so I think there's some potential for a certain

      And I utterly reject your assertion that it's been developed with a
      "Winnebago" design. It has grown, but not by throwing in the kitchen
      sink, instead only by slow accretion of markup for which there was a
      demonstrable need.

      You may be right that the "out-of-the-box" functionality of the
      DocBook Repository Team's stylesheets has contributed significantly to
      its success. I'll call that a feather and stick it in my cap, I think :-)

      | Perhaps setting out to form a fresh DocBook2 would be
      | a better direction. . . taking the best of DocBook,
      | including lessons learned, and use namespaces to
      | provide the multi-dimensionality framework to better
      | reflect the actual structure of documents/information.

      Ah, is that what you meant? Have a namespace for lists, a namespace
      for tables, a namespace for procedures, a namespace for synopses, etc.

      I'm very, very suspicious of that design philosophy. It introduces
      real practical problems for authors and I don't see how it offers any
      significant benefits on any front.

      I'd love to hear how I'm wrong about that, though.

      Be seeing you,

      - --
      Norman Walsh <normyahoo@...> | Next to knowing when to seize an
      http://nwalsh.com/ | opportunity, the most important
      | thing in life is to know when to
      | forego an advantage.--Benjamin
      | Disraeli
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