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Re: spec-prod, xmlspec, docbook and Co.

From: Norman Walsh <Norman.Walsh@Sun.COM>
Date: 17 Oct 2001 10:57:10 -0400
To: spec-prod@w3.org
Message-ID: <87u1wyqpq1.fsf@Sun.COM>
/ Philippe Le Hegaret <plh@w3.org> was heard to say:
| OASIS is leading towards the XML version of DocBook. The W3C started to use
| xmlspec in 1996/1997 with the XML specification itself. I didn't look
| closely at DocBook and I'm still wondering how far we go into producing
| a common schema for specifications, but is there any chance that we can merge
| both somehow (or use a correct extension mechanism)?

Considering <article> in DocBook to be roughly equivalent to <spec>,
I arrive at the following comparison (off the top of my head):

DocBook Articles vs. XMLSpec

- The "meta" is quite different, XMLSpec has a whole bunch of W3C-specific
  metadata. This could (should?) be addressed by creating an XML namespace
  for the W3C metadata. The DocBook TC is evaluating what to do with meta
  and allowing namespaced meta seems like a good idea.

- XMLSpec tag names are often HTML-derived so they tend to be shorter.
  (e.g. <p> vs. <para>, <att> vs. <sgmltag class='attribute'>.)

- DocBook probably has more "wrappers".

- DocBook uses the CALS table model, XMLSpec uses HTML. (But they aren't
  that far apart, really.)

- XMLSpec has more "special purpose" elements (e.g., <specref/>,
  <bibref/>, etc.  where DocBook has just <xref/>).

I think working towards some common format would be a really good

Q1: Are we willing to break legacy in significant ways? Could the
    XMLSpec doctype be made more DocBook-like and vice versa?

Q2: Assuming that neither community is willing to accept all the
    suggestions of the other :-), should we define an isomorphic set
    of tags?

Q3: Can this be addressed organizationally? Could the W3C be persuaded
    to accept DocBook documents as specs? Could OASIS be persuaded to
    accept XMLSpec?

| I'm personnally not favoring xmlspec or docbook. Using an XML format is
| a sufficient reason for me as long as I can describe well enough the DOM
| specifications (i.e. an XML format without support for interface would be
| useless).

Adding markup to DocBook, if there are justifiable use cases in the
computer documentation domain, is pretty straightforward.

                                        Be seeing you,

Norman.Walsh@Sun.COM   | Everything we love, no doubt, will pass away,
XML Standards Engineer | perhaps tomorrow, perhaps a thousand years
XML Technology Center  | hence. Neither it nor our love for it is any
Sun Microsystems, Inc. | the less valuable for that reason.--John
                       | Passmore
Received on Wednesday, 17 October 2001 10:57:17 UTC

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