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2. Introduction

The principle of any sgml'ed document (linuxdoc, docbook, html) is more or less the same:

Don't write how it should look like, but write what it is.

This is a different approach than the standard "wysiwyg"

What you see is what you (should) get (if you are a very lucky one and your computer wins the war against buggy software)
You might want to call it wysiwym, i.e. "What you see is what you mean"
. You do not tell the program that this line should be in a bigger font, to look like a headline. What you do is telling that this line is a headline. You do not try to make your document look like a report, but you tag it to be a report. So you tag the text with the appropriate <tag>.

The big advantages of this approache are:

  1. You do not need to mess around with fontsetting, line gaps or anything directly connected to the layout.
  2. You describe your document in a more abstract way so it's more reusable and can be mapped to different media types.
    If you ever tried the reuse a document written in a specialized wysiwy layout for html then you know what I'm talking about.

In addition in all sgml-style documents you will find named symbols This is a concept to expand the charset of the document and to avoid inconsitences in decision of the parser, how to interpret or map some special characters.

How should the parser know weather a < character is starting a tag or should be printed directly. This is solved by the named character lt. If you write &lt; this one will result to < in your text. For a list of the named symbols see Named Symbols.

Hint for the new user

It might be a good idea, to download this document not only as a dvi or ps document, but also to download the sgml source. This offers you the chance to look into the sources, if you find something within this article, wich might fit your needs.

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