[NTG-context] Context against XSL

Dirar Bougatef chabah5 at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 30 22:53:25 CEST 2004


Hans Hagen wrote:

> Dirar Bougatef wrote:
>
>> Does anyone have informations about tex macro packages and their 
>> advantages over XSL (previously known as XSL-FO) ?
>>
>> I have read somewhere that tex is a good implementation of the XSL 
>> standard !
>>
>> I think this is in regard that tex thinks in matter of boxes (Which 
>> is the equivalent of XSL blocks). I this case, is the difference 
>> between the two in the fact that at the end tex and macros are only 
>> algorithms for typesetting blocks automatically ?
>
>
> xsl is mostly a specification, and there are program soutthere that 
> implement parts of is. The page model that xsl uses is not that 
> advanced. Also, because you more or less make up the page, you also 
> sort of disable all kind of clever things that batch processors like 
> tex + macropackages may do. This means that xsl (fo) is suited for a 
> certain range of typesetting tasks. From my experience your 
> expectations should not be that high with regards to complex layouts.
>
> I'm on and off implementing an fo engine (foxet) and run into 
> fuzziness with regards to the specs (a bad omen is that that there i 
> could not find a good manual and the ones i have are made up rather 
> poorly, which indicated that we're not so much dealing with high end 
> typesetting, but with regular batchprocessing of not too complex 
> documents).
>
> Recently i've been playing with css (from which xsl inherits much, 
> which does not add to a clear design imo) and i'm surprised that 
> browsers are so different that one ends up hacking around as much as 
> one would using tex -) In many ways xsl is driven by the web, and not 
> by real typesetting (is my guess). paper and screen are different things.
>
> What you use depends on what you need it for. For a long time, the 
> midset of designers has been shaped by what page maker, quark, etc can 
> and cannot do (therefore all those ragged right docs, where the 
> limitations have become the standard). I fear that in the next couple 
> of years the limited possibilities of for instance xsl will bring down 
> the standards (if it can't be done, one will just lower the demands), 
> which also fits in the short lifecycle of most documents.
>
> So, what to use when:
>
> - here i find that using tex directly (using the context xml parser) 
> in most cases is rather efficient; the problem is always in getting 
> (frequently inconsistent) designs done. In that respect my motto has 
> become 'the problem does not change'
>
> - xslt is nice for preprocessing and manipulating documents and often 
> one can get away with clean coding
>
> - some scripting is often needed as well (for instance in order to add 
> typographical detail, which is rather easy to do with regexps in 
> scripting languages)
>
> - xsl (fo), well for the moment i see it as a kind of 'placed xml'; 
> when customers want us to use it, we'll do it (gives a feeling of 
> independence), but in most cases using some direct mapping onto tex is 
> not only easier (cheaper) but also gives a bit more control. It all 
> depends on the design.
>
> - so: just use the best of all worlds (which is what xml is about: 
> it's consistent -when used all right- and it can be transformed; 
> interestingly there are quite some organizations out there that bind 
> themselves to just one kind of xml handling app thereby contradicting 
> the concept.
>
> In de time i want to write down something on these matters.
>
> Hans
>
> btw, there is a special mailing list for foxet; a preliminary version 
> is in the alpha zip
>
>
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
>                                           Hans Hagen | PRAGMA ADE
>               Ridderstraat 27 | 8061 GH Hasselt | The Netherlands
>      tel: 038 477 53 69 | fax: 038 477 53 74 | www.pragma-ade.com
>                                              | www.pragma-pod.nl
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>
Hi Hans and thanks for your answers.

 > xsl is mostly a specification, and there are program soutthere that 
implement parts of is. The page model that xsl uses is not that 
advanced. Also, because you more or less make up the page, you also sort
 > of disable all kind of clever things that batch processors like tex + 
macropackages may do. This means that xsl (fo) is suited for a certain 
range of typesetting tasks. From my experience your expectations
 > should not be that high with regards to complex layouts.

Do you mean that i went too far in my interpretation of XSL blocks as 
TEX boxes ?
What i see is that XSL as you said is quiet the same thing as CSS2 hence 
it will support complex layouts (At the end it is only a matter of 
dividing your page into big or small boxes and the ability of accessing 
them, isn't it ?). In this case the difference with tex is only going to 
be that the last handles caracter (with ligatures etc.) and word spacing 
(with regard to hyphenation) according to some rules where the other 
doesn't.

 > .. xsl is driven by the web, and not by real typesetting (is my 
guess). paper and screen are different things.

I have read an article that says that the whole matter about creating 
XSL was printed documents with all what this implies such as headers, 
footers, etc (The stuff that does not concern electronic documents).

 > i find that using tex directly (using the context xml parser) in most 
cases is rather efficient; the problem is always in getting (frequently 
inconsistent) designs done. In that respect my motto has become 'the
 > problem does not change'

What do you mean by this. Is it that i have to stick to only few designs 
and avoid changing too much .. ?

I would like to write my documents in XML, keep THEM on a server and 
generate PDF, when the user clicks on the link to my document.
Of course i want to use Context to typeset my document.  What can i use 
for this  ?  Have you already writen a parser for standard (e.g Docbook) 
documents ?

Bye.

Dirar.


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