Re: Successor to DocBook [tool chain]

On Wed, 2006-07-12 at 02:05 -0500, Shaun McCance wrote:

> > Yes, I'm quite conservative.  I'd say we should wait another 10 years
> > before start to push the next DTD/Schema onto the community.  ATM, the
> > problem is not the markup per se, but the lack of a free XML editor.  We
> > need a combination of oxygen and emacs (psgml/nxml/xml).
> If I'm still the Yelp maintainer in 10 years,
> somebody please have me committed to an asylum.
> I completely agree that the lack of a free XML
> editor is a serious hindrance to our ability to
> recruit quality tech writers.  I've seen various
> people try to address this, and one thing that
> always causes problems is that DocBook is hard.
> Making pretty buttons for all the inline markup
> doesn't change the fact that you have too much
> inline markup.  Now you just have a cluttered
> user interface.

Just to clarify this point of the conversation, one reason we need
another grammar is to address the complexities that authoring tools
face. We want a grammar that both serves our documentation needs, and is
easy to add to some existing tool. We need a better editor, and a better
tool chain, to lower the barrier for contributors to join.

Do we have any requirements for such an editor? Or the tool chain? 

* DTD/Schema validation
* Presentation view editing
* Markup view editing
* Revision history
* Localization view
* Applicable elements are prompted by content
* Auto-completion to tags and attributes
* Icon and image support
* Find and Replace (with special tag rules)
* Spell checking
* Source control integration
* Export to HTML or PDF

A number of existing editors may be a good start at my first glance. Is
one a better foundation than co-opting components to build a technical

AbiWord supports presentation editing DocBook now. I cannot say how well
it handles it. I do recommend it to non-technical web authors because
its XHTML export is very good. I image that a Mallard plugin could do
the same. I image the attributes that are the problem with docbook; the
mapping of styles to tags is fine. Writer also supports presentation editing DocBook. Again I have
no experience with it. Surely it too can be extended to edit Mallard.

Gedit has some markup editing support. It is easy to add syntax
highlight rules and snippets for tags and attributes. I think real-time
schema validation and context-driven tag prompting might be difficult to

Bluefish can do all that Gedit can do and possesses many of he same
strengths and weaknesses. It does not handle large documents well, but
it is more adept at tag editing.

Screem promises to be a real-time validating and context-driven editor.
it is primarily a markup tool, not an editor. My last try of it 18
months ago proved to be too unstable to work with.

MLView also promises to be a real-time validating and context-driven
editor. I don't believe it is stable yet. Like screem, its focus is on
the markup, not the content.


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