DocBook [was Re: [Perl] Designing the Ultimate Presentation Tool]

Shlomi Fish shlomif at
Tue Nov 12 23:16:26 PST 2002

Reuven, I now about DocBook and used it several times. I think it is

The problem with it is that it is very verbose. Very, very verbose. When
writing DocBook documents I could die whenever I have to write
<listitem>...</listitem>. In HTML it is simply <li></li>. I think HTML
with CSS if it's well-formed can be translated to DocBook quite easily,
using an XSL stylesheet or something like that.

I prefer to use HTML for my tools because it is much more brief and so
more environmentally friendly, and hackers would like it better.


For a nice article about what makes a language popular, and why brevity is
important. Paul Graham says there some very nice things about Perl.


	Shlomi Fish

On Wed, 13 Nov 2002, Reuven M. Lerner wrote:

> >>>>> "Shlomi" == Shlomi Fish <shlomif at> 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:
> 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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Shlomi Fish        shlomif at
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He who re-invents the wheel, understands much better how a wheel works.

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