[Perl] Designing the Ultimate Presentation Tool

Reuven M. Lerner reuven at lerner.co.il
Tue Nov 12 14:38:07 PST 2002


>>>>> "Shlomi" == Shlomi Fish <shlomif at vipe.stud.technion.ac.il> writes:

    Shlomi> 3. Can generate DocBook format out of the well-formed
    Shlomi>    HTML. (to satisfy DocBook lovers.)

If all you want to do is create HTML, then HTML is a great markup
language.  If, by contrast, you want to be able to translate documents
into arbitrary formats, including HTML, then DocBook is probably your
best bet.  (I realize that it was toward the end of Thursday night's
meeting, but Mark's short presentation on DocBook was fantastic, and
made this all pretty clear.)

Remember, DocBook is a semantic markup language.  Even if you want to
argue that modern HTML is only a semantic markup language, it's not
nearly as rich as DocBook.

But let's ignore semantics (ha, ha) for a moment, and think about
practical issues.  My Linux box came with the following programs:

    docbook2dvi
    docbook2html
    docbook2man
    docbook2pdf
    docbook2ps
    docbook2rtf
    docbook2tex
    docbook2texi
    docbook2txt

In other words, you can take a DocBook document and turn it into PDF.
Or PostScript.  Or a Unix man page.  Or RTF.  Or plain text.  No
matter what the output format, you're guaranteed to have styling
that's appropriate for that format, without any loss of information.
The translation is guaranteed to work automatically, for all
documents, forever.

By contrast, I found a program (html2docbook) on the Web:

    http://www.docbook.org/wiki/moin.cgi/Html2DocBook

The program's author, who has been working on this program for several
years, says the following:

    Due to inconsistencies in HTML coding and the often many-to-one
    relationship between DocBook elements and HTML elements, there has
    always been a need to review and re-tag manually, but the following
    process does minimize that effort somewhat.

Shlomi, you're welcome to use HTML whenever you want.  But to use it
as the primary markup language when you fully intend to create
printable copies of your document strikes me as a bit silly,
particularly since a superior solution already exists.

Reuven




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