W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-ppl@w3.org > December 2013

Re: Revise group description?

From: Michael Hahn <xmlronin@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 28 Dec 2013 17:58:47 -0600
Message-ID: <52BF65B7.9070609@gmail.com>
To: public-ppl@w3.org
CC: michael@alphabyauthor.com
If I may de-lurk for a moment...

Jean, Tony, and Arved all have valid points and none of my 
counter-arguments have any significant substance - I'm not a big fan of 
DITA and the Open Toolkit, f'rinstance - but I just wanted to add a 
little seasoning to the stew.

My last four jobs/consulting projects have more-or-less had the same set 
of requirements:

1) Use a standard schema (DITA or S1000D),
2) Produce PDF and electronic publications from the same source, and
3) Make the processing as simple to maintain and cost-effective as possible.

It's definitely possible to produce a set of stylesheets targeted to 
XSL-FO that satisfies those requirements and that, past the initial 
investment, doesn't require an expert to maintain and modify as needed. 
  For my previous employer I was producing 30,000 pages a month with 
less than $2000 worth of software.

In my segment of the technical documentation arena, simplicity and 
accuracy are more valuable than esthetics - the book designers among you 
should review Chapter 6 of the S1000D specification if you want to test 
your ability to suppress your gag reflex.  I'm continually reminded of 
the line I heard many years ago: "The US military has invested an 
enormous amount of money in creating a complex and sophisticated 
publishing system that produces manuals that look like they came off a 
1950s mimeograph machine."  The average aircraft maintenance manual 
isn't much better.

The latest round of stylesheets I'm developing is minimizing the number 
of application extensions involved so the same data and stylesheets can 
produce equivalent PDF output regardless of the FO processor used*. 
Since we're in the development phase, what's more important at this 
juncture is a) accessibility for someone other than the stylesheet 
writer, b) fitness to task (designing for versions of the data spec not 
in use is a silly waste of time), and c) consistent, accurate, and clear 
output.

Your mileage very likely varies - but those are the requirements I've 
been given, so a generalized solution like XSL-FO is very useful.

*Okay, so an expert can tell the difference, but my customers are 
experts in aircraft maintenance, not layout design.

-- 
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Michael R. Hahn
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michael@alphabyauthor.com
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Received on Saturday, 28 December 2013 23:59:12 UTC

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