Subject: Re: why XML? (fwd)
To: None <>
From: Mark Weinem <>
List: netbsd-users
Date: 04/01/2007 23:15:29
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 1 Apr 2007 16:51:53 -0400
From: James K. Lowden <>
Subject: Re: why XML?

Mark Weinem wrote:
>> I thought mdoc(7) provided all the necessary features for simultaneous
>> publication of documentation in various forms

How do you define a URL in mdoc?  Does it become an HREF anchor when
converted to HTML?  What about a GUI component?  How do you include a

>> If folks want more structured (and truly structured) documentation
>> then I could only recommend Lout (pkgsrc/textproc/lout) as it is light
>> years beyond anything-TeX or troff-like and still light years beyond
>> anything-ML too.

I don't understand how you can recommend it.  The PDF backend is
officially deprecated, and I see no HTML backend.

>> I'd personally be happier with raw troff or even raw TeX than
>> anything-ML.  There's nothing in the textual/documentation world more
>> difficult and more complex to read, parse, or manage than *ML files.

The evidence stands against you, though.  Many very large documentation
projects rely on DocBook.

None of the systems you mention afaik have anything like DocBook
stylesheets.  I don't see separation of content from format.  Take the
<screen> tag for example (
  How would you impose uniform formatting of screenshots unless every
instance of a screen is so designated?

DocBook is not perfect for everything.  When my daughter's school papers
began including footnotes, I set her up with LaTeX, not DocBook, for
heaven's sake.  Right tool for the job.  She's not trying to maintain
technical documentation.

DocBook is neither an accident nor a fad.  It demonstrably yields good
HTML and printed output.  It is well documented and actively worked on.  I
would also guess that of any system you might mention, it has the most
practitioners.  For those reasons alone it's the best available choice.