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   Re: [xml-dev] Future of XSL-FO at W3C??

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On Friday 18 October 2002 11:54 am, Rick Jelliffe wrote:
> Whether there is room for both FO and PDF, will be interesting, now that
> PDF has added XML support.  

Oh I'd say so - for one, the granularity of FO is wider and bigger (but 
clumsier) than that of PostScript/PDF. Which is why the very notion of an 
imagesetter that can somehow manage to eat XSL-FO raw would be sheer chaotic 
lunacy, or even (to use one of my favourite 'newsbite' words) pandemonium. 

PDF or direct PostScript (I'm not differentiating at this stage because 
there's no real requirement for a 'Portable' stage - the two simply buffer up 
against one another into the PostScript interpreter or imposition planner) 
offer exact specification of position, curve, letterform, typeface, rule, 
line and glyph construction. None of this is within the realm of XSL-FO other 
than having a rough stab at some typefaces it might have heard of somewhere. 
However, PostScript isn't aware of anything beyond the immediate page, let 
alone the continuous logic of galleys that run through a magazine or 
newspaper. They simply turn up later as more data that might or might not 
bear some similarity to stuff that occurred on some previous pages it might 
remember setting (or not). 

Similarly, the semantics of presentation that FO holds so well are no longer 
needed - indeed, sooner or later the only semantic retention or manifestation 
needed is to tell the laser whether it should be on or off.

XSL-FO could and should be a wonderful means of harvesting and shepherding 
composite editorial sources onto one substrate publication. This is a wider 
task than PDF, and the lack of such a stage is why we still see people 
pushing mouses around, faces lit by the screen of a QuarkXpress DPS on 
screen, late into the night. The weak link is the art editor (like wot I was) 
- we get to become filing assistants, putting things away on the page in the 
right places, and we get to become repetitive monkeys, putting the same 
shapes into the same old holes, because there's no editorial automation to 
put us out of our jobs yet.

Ian Tindale


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