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Re: SGML tools aren't so great
- To: LDP <>
- Subject: Re: SGML tools aren't so great
- From: Gary Preckshot <>
- Date: Wed, 03 May 2000 22:55:27 -0700
References: <39109683.6FCB60CA@inreach.com> <3910F965.F036AE45@swelltech.com>
- Resent-Date: Thu, 4 May 2000 02:04:06 -0400 (EDT)
- Resent-Message-ID: <mXa-rC.A.R0F.NLRE5@murphy>
Joe Cooper wrote:
>It's not presently in the Linux version. I'd hate for you to rush out
and buy it expecting it to be there. I would imagine it will come in
time, but you'd have to talk to Corel to find out when.
That's a real bummer. I'll have to run it under NT until they get it
updated. Hopefully, any macros I develop will transfer over. I've found that
having multiple operating systems generally ensures that I have one where
tool work. Even DOS is useful (under DOS, all sins are possible, and
everything can read files I put on FAT16 partitions).
>I LIKE Word Perfect. I've been a Word Perfect user since the beginning
of time (version 2.0 for DOS to be more precise). But it has it's
place. It's place is writing letters, resumes, showy presentation
papers that don't need frequent revision, novels, stories, etc.
Technical papers, in my humble opinion, are not it's strong suit. But
this is definitely NOT a NIH situation. It is a situation of BTFTJ
(Best Tool For The Job). DocBook has features that are so perfect for
the LDP's needs that it's difficult for me to fathom that there is any
argument about using it
Having been in an organization that used both WP and Wurd for technical
documentation, I can assure that it's both possible and practical. One of
the Wurd features that was intensely practical was the "show revisions"
feature. Several authors could work on a doc, and you could tell instantly
what was new or changed. Revision bars (you know, those vertical lines)
automatically were put alongside changes. Wurd also has a very good equation
editor, which is essential for technical documentation. I think your humble
opinion comes from not using the tool.
I don't advocate going to Wurd or WordPerfect, but there certainly seems to
be a very provincial attitude here. Some of the desktop publishing packages,
like Ventura, do very well on longer docs with many revisions. Many
publishing houses use them - they expect authors to write in Wurd using
their macro packages, and then they "typeset" them semiautomatically using a
>And I know that now the argument is focused on using WordPerfect to
generate SGML, since that is one of its new features in the Windows
That's the one I'll probably use.
>The reason is that DocBook does not just define what a
document looks like. In fact that's not even it's main goal. It
describes what the content is. 'Examples' are labelled as what they
are, not <bold><teletype><center>. So are: user interaction, program
output, references to other works, images, diagrams, chapter headings,
copyright notices, author names, version numbers, and a ton of other
things. These things will still have to be entered in some way that is
not immediately made obvious by a point and click interface (how do you
iconize those concepts or put them on a menu bar in a simplified
It's easy. Haven't you ever written a word processor macro? You can add all
sorts of things, including things that bring up a dialog box and ask you for
input. You can even bring up dialog boxes at the start of a new document or
at the close of a document to enforce data discipline. You can program these
things five ways from Sunday, and you are not limited to a point and click
interface. You can vet the entries and make the author enter thing that have
to be entered before he/she can continue. These are called templates, and
they exist because lots of organizations have the metadata problem, so word
processors are infinitely customizable. You just make a template for the
kind of document you want. Thereafter, anyone using the template is guided
to enter things they have to enter, and use styles they have to use.
> However, I see that you have hopes of never SEEING the SGML.
That just isn't going to work. You will have to see the SGML (or at
least a functional WYSIWYG equivelent, which will HAVE to be just as
complicated). I've so far not seen much about how Word Perfect works with
SGML documents and if it can deal with the full range of tags needed for
a technical document.
I'm resigned to seeing it once, when I write the templates and macros, but
never thereafter. All the SGML does is convey information. All I should have
to see is the information interface, not the grubby SGML details. Yeah, I
know WP has reveal codes. They're there because WP screws up, and sometimes
you have to fix it.
>it doesn't make much sense to
stick to documentation that focuses on appearence more than
Have you got a limited view of word processors! What do you think the rest
of the world has been doing? Word processors support findability,
versioning, revision, and they can pop up dialog boxes virtually anywhere
and anytime you please to collect metadata or enforce styles. Do you imagine
the commercial and technical world has been awaiting DocBook with baited
breath? People have been writing and maintaining technical documents with
word processors for years. By now, all successful word processors support
these activities. Your paeans of praise for what DocBook might do in the
future are several years out of date for both WordPerfect and Wurd.
I'll see what it's SGML looks like when I get it. I suppose I'll have to
write some macros to put in the various information blocks required by
DocBook. Can't be much worse than Microsoft's help rtf format. They wrote a
bunch of Wurd macros to do that.
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