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Re: Authorship

Mark Komarinski wrote:

> I find it strange that LyX is being blamed for
what are really logic or spelling errors.

I don't think anybody blamed LyX. The biggest problem with the LyX presentation was
that without images, there was no way to get a feel for the editor.

>Let's be honest here.  Not everyone is proficient at Emacs or SGML.  Not
everyone wants to boot into Windows to edit a document, then go back into
Linux to make sure that what they wrote it right.  My work machine doesn't
even have Windows installed.  I've been proving to anyone that will listen
that Linux works just fine in a Windows-based office, and I'm not
about to change that just so I can run WordPerfect.

jade runs on Windows, WP does validation as you type or whenever you request it, WP
does DocBook 3.1, DSSSL works on Windows, Netscape works on Windows, you don't have
to boot to Linux to see it's right. In fact, WP does so well, that if you get
through its validation - it's right. With jade and DSSSL, you can even see what it
looks like in html. As far as I can tell, there are two glitches. 1) filenames are
case-sensitive in Linux, so one of my graphics files isn't showing on your web site.
The HTML was generated on Windows with jade, for your information. The SGML was done
and validated entirely on Windows. The entire mess was copied to Linux and there
tar'd and gz'd.
2)there's a glitch in DSSSL and jade that bleeds the escape sequences in your HOWTO
into generated html. It shows in your version on your web site. I used sed on
Windows to correct the html files. sed runs on Windows. gawk runs on Windows. The
sed script follows:

>I dismissed WordPerfect for two reasons:
1)  The Linux version has no SGML capabilities according to others
on this list.
2)  I tried the SGML mode on the Windows version and got nowhere.  The
documentation is seriously lacking, and when there is some, it talks about

WordPerfect has supported SGML since version 7. I can only conclude you got nowhere
because you didn't try very hard. As must be obvious, I got somewhere fast with your
very own document, and did it with DocBook 3.1, which you said was impossible. I
don't ruffle feathers without reason, and I wouldn't say this if I hadn't personally
disproved everything you said in the HOWTO.

>I found those perfectly valid reasons to dismiss WordPerfect.  Until now,
there has been noone to counter my claims.  I'll be happy to document
using the Windows version as long as there are instructions on loading,
editing, and saving an SGML document.

You load, edit, and save SGML documents the same way you do in all other Windows
word processors. Windows determines the file type from the extension. If you open a
file with an .sgm extension, you're automatically in SGML or XML mode. You can
change the DTD simply by creating a new document with the DTD of your choice, and
copying and pasting the entire document from the old DTD to the new.

>Hand waving of "it works" can't be

Throwing up your hands and saying "it doesn't work" when it really does is
unacceptable too.

>My other problem is lack of information from the LDP heirarchy.  Perhaps I'm
not reading my e-mails enough.

That's probably an understatement. See later.

>The HOWTO-HOWTO has to make a few assumptions:

>1)  The reader knows Linux (regular HOWTO authors do not have this assumption)
>2)  The author doesn't know much about SGML or the tools to create SGML.
>3)  *big assumption*  The author wants to use Linux - meaning a
large preference towards open-source or Linux-based tools.

I don't think so. Whether you like it or not, this HOWTO is the example of how to
write how tos, and as such, it has to how not to make assumptions. I've used maybe
20 different OSs in my career. I use what works. I have DOS, W95, WNT4, and RedHat
6.1 on my machine and I use whatever has the best tool. I don't really care which
one it is. The only thing I care about is being able to transfer files from one to
the other. I'm also a pretty good programmer and it's usually no big deal to get
open source software running on any OS I want.

>Based on the target audience I'm talking to, I think these assumptions are
valid ones.

>From what I can see, I'm the first new author that has given you substantive
feedback. I don't think preaching to the choir qualifies as useful feedback.

>Personally, I find the "out of date when it was written" to be an insult.

I can't control your feelings of insult, but at least be accurate. Your HOWTO was
out of date when written and the reason it was is because the people who knew what
was going to happen left you twisting in the wind with no warning.

I don't know, but isn't my feedback the biggest and best effort you've ever gotten?
It's certainly a lot of effort just to insult you.

I'd also venture to guess that the feedback you got was all from old hands, and I'm
the first new author to give you an honest appraisal of how helpful your HOWTO-HOWTO
really was to me, and I took a lot of effort to do it.

The old hands should be ashamed of leaving you to take the heat. This HOWTO is too
important to LDP for them not to get involved. I said once before that the
HOWTO-HOWTO is the flagship of LDP. It sets the standard for all other howtos. It
should be up-to-date, accurate, and complete. You should be getting comments from
new authors about how useful it is, and from old hands about how accurate and
complete it is.

>We are listing anything that works.  The issue is that there is very little
that works.  There's even less that's open source/affordable by non-pros.

You've now had incontrovertable evidence that WP works. It's on your web site.
Shortly I hope that Greg Leblanc will send you some data on emacs. I suspect there's
a lot more out there that works. LDP needs to make this information available to
prospective authors along with data and appraisals.

>> Is this provincialism?

Yes. Windows was originally developed on Unix machines. All the compilers on Windows
have a Unix background. Virtually any GNU or open source software can be compiled to
run on the POSIX virtual machine in NT. Linux is catching up to Windows, and has the
benefit of being far more robust, but there are still tools on Windows that work a
lot better and easier then those on Linux. If you don't recognize this, you're being

>Things got complicated because many of the tools had to change.  We're
smack in the middle of the crossover from LinuxDoc to DocBook.  Authors
are everywhere trying to figure out what tools to install, how to use
them, and what all these new tags are.  I'm trying, but I'm like the
teacher that has to learn all about organic chemistry the day
before you teach it in class.

You should have had a lot more help from the old hands. The sentence "Authors
are everywhere trying to figure out what tools to install, how to use
them, and what all these new tags are." is really the root of my discontent. It's
the reason I tried to have a section that said which tools went with which tools.
It's also the reason for the DocBook appendix, which was an attempt to define which
tags were useful. As you say, there are over 300 of them, and one of the services
your HOWTO should perform is showing which ones are preferred and in which order.
For instance, I had to look at the SGML for your howto just to figure out that
"article" was the root tag used for HOWTOs. Eventually I found it in your text, but
I had to work with WP to understand the significance of root tags. I also had to
work with WP to understand the <tag>text...</tag> construction. That's why the
section on "Demystifying SGML". The form was not obvious from your presentation.
There were too many tags without end tags.

>I'm not an expert in SGML or DocBook, nor did I ever claim I was.

You're not supposed to be. You're supposed to have help, which was not forthcoming.
Likewise, authors that read your howto don't want to be SGML experts either. Your
howto should give them enough to get going, and they'll pick up more by osmosis, if
the tools are good enough.

>I think I did my job.

You did. It just isn't done, nor is it entirely your job. You did a great service by
starting it off. LDP should have had this years ago. However, now it's really
important that your HOWTO reflect LDP policy. Hence this debate. You had a good
idea. Like all good ideas, it has a life of its own.


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