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   Re: Future of Formatting Objects (XSL/FO)

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  • From: Sebastian Rahtz <sebastian.rahtz@computing-services.oxford.ac.uk>
  • To: mrc@allette.com.au
  • Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 09:38:15 +0100 (BST)

Marcus Carr writes:
 > Seriously, you overlook at least two well established practices - one is using a tool
 > like FrameMaker+SGML to generate hardcopy. Its typesetting capabilities are well
 > regarded amongst professional publishers

They are?? Good gracious, I must have been talking to the wrong people...

 > etc. The second is writing code to turn the data into something that a typesetting
 > engine can render - before you discount that, remember that you already have to do
 > this to create FOs.

very very few people, you would agree, write code to go directly from
SGML to PostScript.  surely the point of FOs is that the typesetting
engine will be able to render FO language?

 > acceptable practice with relation to the creation of data for hardcopy. If FO data was
 > specifically created for a single application, why would I use it instead of just
 > going directly to the syntax that the application dealt with anyway? 

two answers, neither of them convincing

 * FO gives us a common language with which to describe abstract
   style. this is surely a good thing? a designer could specify a project
   in terms of FO?

 * we do not have any good-enough typesetters at present. there is no
   application you can point to which does an unequivocally good job
   at typesetting (including non-Latin, math, page markup across a
   range of pages, h&j, complex tables, non-rectangular layouts etc
   etc). If FO kicks the development of new typesetting engines, then
   I am all for it.

 > The whole idea of FO
 > trivialises typesetting issues by adopting the approach that near enough is good
 > enough. 

You are most convincing. I agree entirely. And yet I draw a different
conclusion. FO can work, in its trivializing way, because people have
learnt not to care. `Hamburger and coke' HTML has taught them that. We
are, I predict, entering a period of rapid decline in typesetting
standards. As a TeXxie, it saddens me hugely to see all the TeX work
thrown away, but thats history for you.

Sebastian Rahtz

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