(dsssl) [OT] Tale of woe (was: Practical Bibliography question)

Subject: (dsssl) [OT] Tale of woe (was: Practical Bibliography question)
From: Trent Shipley <tcshipley@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 12:48:41 -0700
On Saturday 06 October 2001 07:27, you wrote:

> sebastian

Asked several questions about how I arrived at the highly questionable 
decision to use SGML and DSSSL for my dissertation.

>  > (Ah they're all nits,  I need to lighten up and get back to writing.
>  >       Writing important.
>  >               Formatting obstacle.)
> now you know why so many people use Word to write their thesis!

I started using Word Perfect.  When I quit using it, it was working as well 
(or as badly) as the current combination of:

+ personal TEIL overrides
+ Light's DSSSL stylesheet + substantial modifications

That is there were nits.  I couldn't fix them in WP even with it's feature 
that shows a schematic of its internal markup.

Besides even though I've been using WP for 15 years or so, I still don't know 
how to avoid reformatting an entire document without a lot of manual 

I *love* the fact that with DSSSL I can change the font of all blockquotes by 
changing *one* variable.

Incidentally, when a Word document gets wonky I have even more trouble fixing 
it.   On at least one occasion I wound up dumping a long document to text and 
starting over.


Having decided that WP was not quite what was needed I looked into 

>  > important.  I need to writing the dissertation.  Laying the d***
>  > thing out myself is just a poverty induced obstacle.
> just use LaTeX like we all did in the good old days

I also wrote to computer support (CCIT) at the UofA.  One person wrote back 
saying she knew of no XML->XSLT or DSSSL expertise at CCIT and said that I 
ought to just use LaTeX.  Based on this advice I bought Kopka and Daly's _A 
Guide to LaTeX and concluded that LaTeX was a very viable option.  
Nevertheless, SGML|XML + a stylesheet would be more optimal provided it would 

Foolishly, I proceeded on the assumption that I could get an XSLT or DSSSL 
solution to work without too much trouble.


Meanwhile I had converted the HTML dump from WP to an ad-hoc markup.  I read 
O'Reily's DocBook publication and poked around the OASIS site.  I looked 
around TEI-C and downloaded P3 and U5.  I decided (for better or worse) to 
use TEI because it was structurally much closer to my ad-hoc markup and more 
appropriate than DocBook for a behavioral science or humanities monograph.


I decided to use SGML because I was not proficient with PSGML and it would 
let me be a bit sloppier in my typing.  Besides, it looked like the code 
could be normalized without too much trouble.


I decided to use DSSSL instead of XSLT even though it looked like DSSSL was a 
dying technology because the XSLT processors were so new that I wasn't 
certain about their reliability or feature list.  It also wasn't clear how to 
get from XSLT to PostScript without going through FO and nobody I talked to 
knew if there was a mature XSL-FO to TeX, DVI, or PS engine available for 
free or reasonable cost.

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