Re: [xsl] Office 2007, XSL-FO, and the Adobe "Save as PDF" (non)native-support...

Subject: Re: [xsl] Office 2007, XSL-FO, and the Adobe "Save as PDF" (non)native-support...
From: "G. Ken Holman" <gkholman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2006 06:14:18 -0400
At 2006-06-04 23:31 -0600, M. David Peterson wrote:
Thanks for your follow-up! I truly appreciate this information :)

Glad to help.

On 6/4/06, G. Ken Holman <gkholman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
At 2006-06-03 19:06 -0600, M. David Peterson wrote:

:{)} I'm teaching XSL next week, June 12-16 ... plenty of seats available!

Where at? While I can't say for sure whether our locations will be close enough to enable this, I do VERY MUCH need to learn more about XSL-FO.

If not next week, when is your next session/where?

Washington DC in June, Minneapolis in July and Denmark in October. I'm also delivering a modeling lecture in Raleigh in July at the Tri-XML conference, and a full-day UBL hands-on course in Montrial in August at the Extreme Markup conference and in Denmark both at the end of September and mid-November.

Details linked from our home page:

I also owe Wendell and Tommie a visit...

Mulberry is based in Washington as well, and they have a reputable selection of XML training classes ... you should check out for details.

There is no backwards path from PDF to FO.

That's what triggered all of this... If MSOfffice doesn't ship with direct Save to PDF support, and instead as a separate add-in via a download, then it seemed worth questioning whether it was worth the effort to consider FO as a possible solution for developing an add-in in which would allow for the possibly of more fine-tuned control of the final PDF output.

I don't see "Save as XSL-FO..." being helpful ... since each Word document is bespoke (even if there is a lot of use of styles).

I do see "Save as XSLT for XSL-FO..." being
helpful ... then you could use Word as a
composition/layout tool for arbitrary XML, using
placebo data.  I have two freely-downloadable
environments for annotating result instances
(such as XSL-FO or HTML) with cues for processing
input XML documents.  These have worked well for
two generations of UBL stylesheets, where with so
many stylesheets to develop I had to create an
environment to synthesize XSLT stylesheets rather than write them by hand.

A "Save as XSLT for XSL-FO..." option would write
out an annotated XSL-FO instance which could then
be input to either the LiterateXSLT or ResultXSLT
environments from our web site.

Obviously with native, out of the box support,
there's not a lot of folks who would even consider other options....
But if this presented an opportunity to develop such a plug in as to
help promote the use of FO, then it seemed like it was at very least
worth traveling down this road to find out.

:{)} So much to do ... so little time ...

That's where I was attempting to take this, although it was more
from a "is there a connection I need to be making or am I simply
connecting the "guilt by association" dots and not the actual "this
makes good, solid sense to go down this road a bit further."

I guess it depends on what need you are trying to satisfy when exploring this direction. I understand there are those clamouring for an XSLT/XSL-FO-based solution without having to know the instructions of XSLT and the layout of XSL-FO ... I think the annotation approach I've now successfully used twice and made available might be a key component (and I used this design pattern a third time last month for a customer needing their hired HTML development resources to create XSLT stylesheets; I customized an annotation environment for them to mark up prototypical results with annotations interpreted to synthesize XSLT stylesheets that work on arbitrary input data; rather than using the general purpose LiteratXSLT and ResultXSLT environments, they had a narrow focus with a constrained requirement; the design pattern works well).

My thought process was along the lines of connecting citations support
-- which, as mentioned, is something Bruce, myself, and a few other
folks have been trying to figure out how to connect Liveclipboard and
the GlobalClip extension I developed a while back with citations such
that when you copy from an online doc, all of the meta-data that is
related (in regards to citation information) is embedded into the
information that is passed to Liveclipboard as part of an XML package,
to then paste into Word and have it magically placed into all of the
right places.  Given the connection between the world of citations and
publishing, the "Office Open XML format + XSL-FO = final PDF ready for
online or print publication" idea popped into my head when Brian
posted the Adobe PDF announcement on Friday.

Sure ODF+XSL-FO=PDF ... but OOo already has "Export as PDF" ... instead, if you created ODF+annotations and created a filter to write out, say, XSL-FO+LiterateXSLT, then by pressing a button someone using your filter would get XSLT+XSL-FO for arbitrary XML that would produce PDF from your XML source without having to learn XSLT instructions or XSL-FO constructs.

Same would be true for OOX+annotations ...

But with the new obligations I've taken on with
my standards volunteering and my recent health
challenges I am not able to take the time to
explore that any further.  Gotta pay the bills
and plan for unexpected downtime when thrown the next curve ball in life.

If nothing else, hopefully this might help grease some gears, and get
folks such as yourself thinking about whether or not opportunity
exists, and if/how to act on this.

Indeed ... the bits and pieces are available to determine if the gears mesh or not.

To me a Word document would be written for very different reasons
than an XML document targeted for formatting with XSL-FO.  Word is
great for bespoke documents, XML+XSLT+XSL-FO is great for multiple
XML documents with the same layout ... it doesn't make a lot of sense
to me to write custom XML+XSLT+XSL-FO for a scenario where the layout
and content of every document is different.

True... but if not mistaken, for the most part, in the land of academia, there is an obvious exception in which Bruce has made it known in no uncertain terms that this is something he feels needs to happen to advance the toolsets currently available in this space.

Is this an exception to the rule, or just an oddball case that doesn't
warrant taking such an approach?

Well, I haven't taken the time read Bruce's ideas, but since packages like OOo already take ODF and produce PDF for bespoke documents, I don't see a real role for XSL-FO for the needs OOo satisfies.

But if someone needs XML+XSLT+XSL-FO=PDF for
arbitrary XML and they need a tool to give them
the XSLT+XSL-FO bits, then I think there is a
role for some automation to come into play.


. . . . . . . . . . . . Ken

Registration open for XSLT/XSL-FO training: Wash.,DC 2006-06-12/16
Also for XSL-FO/XSLT training:    Minneapolis, MN 2006-07-31/08-04
Also for XML/XSLT/XSL-FO/UBL training: Varo,Denmark 06-09-25/10-06
World-wide corporate, govt. & user group UBL, XSL, & XML training.
G. Ken Holman                 mailto:gkholman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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