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Re: SGML tools aren't so great
- To: Gary Preckshot <>
- Subject: Re: SGML tools aren't so great
- From: Mark Komarinski <>
- Date: Wed, 03 May 2000 16:29:00 -0400
- CC: LDP <>
- Resent-Date: Wed, 3 May 2000 18:39:55 -0400 (EDT)
- Resent-Message-ID: <Wq_koC.A.HqD.akKE5@murphy>
Gary Preckshot wrote:
> Stein Gjoen and Jorge Godoy inadvertently showed that even
> you guys need better tools. Stein was unaware of an existing
> SGML tag and Jorge clued him to the existence of it. If
> Stein had had a good GUI SGML editor, it would have
> presented him with a choice, and he wouldn't have to ask the
> question he did. On the same subject, if LDP wants certain
> usages and style, the best way to get it consistently is to
> provide tools that make those usages and style natural. Not
> Puritanical exhortations to follow the rules. Hair shirts
> went out of style in the middle ages.
It's a chicken-and-the-egg problem. Noone writes in SGML
because there aren't any easy editors. No editors exist
because noone writes in SGML. You know what? SGML
isn't easy to write. It's a pain. But it's the best open
way for us to distribute documentation. If you want to read
MS documentation while not using a MS OS, you're out of luck.
If you want to make a printed manual using .txt files, you'll spend
too much time formatting the files. HTML how gotten into the same
bad rut as DOC and RTF: too concerned about how things look versus
how they act.
The idea of the LDP is "information: anywhere, anytime, any platform".
SGML helps us get there. Mac, NT, Linux, thin client, PalmOS.
It doesn't matter.
> If you can't conceive of a way of either accepting input in
> other formats, or providing SGML tools that don't require
> three Hail Marys and rigorous adherence to an easily
> violated instruction book, then SGML isn't so great. Mostly
> because the tools don't exist to make the use of it's
> wondrous capabilities easy. If you can't build the tools or
> even conceive of them, you're in the wrong business. What
> people can do by rule, so can computers. If you have
> difficulty translating your rules, then they're ambiguous.
> Try using your computers for grunt work. That's what they're
> for. Human beings are for doing things computers can't -
> like authoring.
Nothing is perfect. SGML tools were a pain. They're getting
better now that there's better documentation. Don't ask how
many days it took me to get sgmltools 1.0.9 to actually
validate some old SGML I had. Standardizing on DocBook
is going to help us greatly, especially now that the rest
of the world is using DocBook too.
Projects like SGMLtools-lite and LyX and PSGML are at least
making it a bit more non-guru-friendly to validate and render
SGML text. I'm adding to the H-H to gear it even
more towards new SGML users. Hopefully it'll all pay
off in the end.
Carlo Gavazzi IPC | Mark F. Komarinski, RHCE - Compat. Engineer|
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