Re: [xsl] DocBook to plain text - what do you use?

Subject: Re: [xsl] DocBook to plain text - what do you use?
From: Wendell Piez <wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2004 11:42:40 -0400
At 08:47 AM 7/28/2004, Paul wrote:
I agree that it seems like it should be much easier.  That's one reason
I'm puzzled that such a thing doesn't seem to exist.

If you think about, for example, the way interpolations of inline pseudo-markup (like *this* for emphasis) and similar constructs will affect, for example, line wrapping, particularly since

  Some blocks need to get indented like this: it is several lines
  long, and is required to *wrap* nicely, no matter what might turn
  up in it -- requiring the smart introduction of whitespace both at
  line ends and at line starts (and maybe the extent of the indent
  varies as well) --

then it is apparent that creating "pretty plain text" is not as trivial as it may first appear.

My guess is that the graceful XSLT-only solution will require two or three passes over the data.

Another sad fact of life is that one person's pretty plain text is another's ugly stepsister.

Is it just that no one is interested in producing plain text?  (For example,
to produce README files and such from a distribution's general DocBook
documentation sources?)  Or is the need little enough that lynx -dump
is good enough for people's purposes?

It seems to be one of those problems that is *nearly* general enough for a generic solution, but that has hidden gotchas and local particularities that have hindered the development of a one-size-fits-all solution.

Here's an article about an approach that uses Java (SAX) for the final stage of production of the plain text: So it's not that this problem hasn't come up before. (Not too long ago the list even discussed producing plain-text tables from XML -- a real beast.)


Wendell Piez                            mailto:wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Mulberry Technologies, Inc.      
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