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   Re: FOs again

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  • From: Rick JELLIFFE <ricko@geotempo.com>
  • To: xml-dev@xml.org
  • Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 21:42:58 +0800

Sebastian Rahtz wrote:
> Surely this is chalk and cheese. Word is about an authoring interface,
> XSL FO is about an interchange language for abstract page
> description. Word now uses RTF for exchange (sort of) - it could
> switch to using XSL FO.

My point is that the FOs that XSL-FO provides must be rich enough to
support documents formatted by Word: that is the bottom line for a
serious format interchange-language. This is in response to the original
post that said that FOs are too complex, or at least that they are some
based on ticking off a wish-list that seemed a bit arbitrary (I don't
know why).  I am not endorsing Word as the standard of excellence,
merely as the market leader which in itself allows us to extract a base
list of features that would have to be supported.

I am not sure that XSL-FO really is best thought of as an interchange
language. I would see it far more as an internal interface within an
XML-based typesetting system which provides a convenient way to specify
a formatter as a black box.

>  > So if CSS starts from utter simplicity and is attempting to grow richer,
>  > and if XSL-FO starts from high-quality and attempts to make it as simple
>  > as possible, what is left? Probably there is scope for a middle
>  > language.
> I'd like to see some evidence for that :-}

It is a logical category; obviously I don't think it is a real fruitful
area as a real category. I use Star Office, and I would be delighted if
they XML-ed it up nicely. 
>  > But I think this a market that is well-catered for. If you
>  > look at Word Perfect, FrameMaker+SGML, Cost, etc, there are many
>  > products
> am i being dense? what is the common factor between an ageing
> word-processor, an ageing page formatter with SGML tagged on, and an
> SGML processing setup?

I would hardly think "aging" should be a perjorative term from someone
who loves TeX :-)  My point was that if someone thinks that FOs are too
complicated, there are systems which are not nearly as complicated and
may be completely acceptable for many kinds of publication, depending as
always on the amount of effort one puts in.  I would hate for the
minimalist virus to hit against XSL-FO.

In some faroff corners of the world, perhaps in distant plantations,
there may be some people who will insist on typesetting without a firm
grasp of Hart's rules. I just don't believe that professional quality
typesetting can be achieved automatically without tools that are smart
enough to try different strategies which depend in turn on the
particular page design being used; a good typesetter can use pretty
crappy tools and make a good fist of it because of their expertise and
eye. But for a production process, one needs as much sophistication as
possible available, and the ability to teach the system new tricks (e.g.
by improving macros, etc over time as new cases arise).

Rick Jelliffe

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  • Follow-Ups:
    • Re: FOs again
      • From: "Sebastian Rahtz" <sebastian.rahtz@computing-services.oxford.ac.uk>
    • Re: FOs again
      • From: "Sebastian Rahtz" <sebastian.rahtz@computing-services.oxford.ac.uk>
  • References:
    • FOs again
      • From: Amy Lewis <amyzing@talsever.com>
    • Re: FOs again
      • From: Rick JELLIFFE <ricko@geotempo.com>
    • Re: FOs again
      • From: "Sebastian Rahtz" <sebastian.rahtz@computing-services.oxford.ac.uk>


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