Re: [xsl] FO Comparison to HTML and PDF

Subject: Re: [xsl] FO Comparison to HTML and PDF
From: "Christopher R. Maden" <crism@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2001 01:50:52 -0800
Hash: SHA1

At 03:43 31-10-2001, Raul Rodriguez wrote:
>I am putting together a white paper advocating FO to be used in our 
>products and services.  For the layperson, I wrote a section called, "How 
>Does FO Compare to PDF and HTML?" and made this scale diagram
>Content <=====================================> Fidelity
>       |                |                    |
>      HTML              FO                   PDF

I'm not entirely clear on what your aim is.  Are you pitching FO as a 
content preparation or storage format?  If so, I think that's a terrible 
idea; in some ways, it combines the worst elements of HTML and PDF, as your 
control isn't total but you don't have any meaning present.

While there is nothing to stop you from using FO that way, FO is really 
intended to be used, as the XSL Recommendation suggests, with XML source 
documents and XSLT.  What this really gives the management is HTML *and* 
PDF at the same time - the XML source can drive creation of both output 
formats, and more, as needed.

As a delivery format, FO is somewhat useless, as there are very few native 
rendering implementations; generally, FO is processed into PDF (and 
possibly thence to print) for final human consumption.

So I might suggest a different diagram, with a different approach:

Content =================================> Delivery
          |                               |
         XML --------XSLT--------FO----> PDF
                       |---------------> HTML
                       |---------------> text
                       |---------------> database

The real selling point (and I realize I'm preaching almost entirely to the 
choir here) is that semantic markup (e.g., XML) describes your data in a 
content-neutral way.  Binding the presentation later means that not only 
can you get multiple output formats more easily, but it also means that 
changing those outputs is much easier.  If the house style changes, a 
modification to one stylesheet can produce the new style across the board, 
rather than running laborious search-and-replace efforts on many documents.

As far as page fidelity goes - when it's important, it's important, and 
marketing collateral is often best created in PageMaker or Illustrator.


[I'm a bit surprised to see only one other reply to this.  Perhaps they all 
went off-list as being a bit off-topic... I'll take my chances.]
- -- 
Christopher R. Maden, Principal Consultant, HMM Consulting Int'l, Inc.
DTDs/schemas - conversion - ebooks - publishing - Web - B2B - training
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