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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • by ziggy (25) on 2003.01.28 19:48 (#16472) Journal
    I found DocBook-X, a strange little combination of tools to emit PDF from DocBook source.
    What an utter piece of crap.

    This package is the worst of what open source is about. This is a 16MB download of poorly documented and highly buggy software. Thankfully, it's mostly shell scripts, but completely untested shell scripts (docbook-sh.cfg is a slightly warmed over csh shell script that doesn't work; multiple bugs in docbook2pdf took a while to spot before it led to a few hundred lines of Java exceptions...).

    Sure, it's a very early release, but I can't see how it works at Project Omega, let alone anywhere else. From what I can tell, it suffers from the same poor engineering that the DocBook tools at O'Reilly do (the ones that only run on the development machine). Most of the download are very large JAR files that don't need to change very much between releases, so I'm unlikely to upgrade this to see if they do manage to apply the patches I send their way. And finally, this package is installed in a rather strange area of a Mac OS X system: /Users/Shared/. (I also didn't find any documentation, configuration file or other mechanism to use letter-sized layouts instead of A4.)

    This irks me so much because it lends credence to the widely held myths that "DocBook is Hard!", "DocBook has no tools!" and "DocBook doesn't work (dammit)!". This is certainly not the case; I've set up DocBook processing configurations on dozens of machines over the past 5 years.

    </rant>

    • Agreed -- I also wasted time trying to get the broken sh script to work, only to be rewarded by the ubiquitous Java stack trace. I must admit that I've never seen the draw of Java + XML, though.

      • I must admit that I've never seen the draw of Java + XML, though.
        Then you must not remember Scott McNealy's pronouncement of ca. 1999: «XML gives Java something to do!» :-)
      • Java + XML quite simply doesn't fly. You can do it for sure, but it really wasn't made to handle XML's flexibility gracefully. To be honest, the worst part of going from a Perl job to a job in which I occasionally do some Java is the XML support. No good SAX writer, no good parsing framework (JAXP is pretty much a joke), no trace of a proper SAX pipelining framework, no viable XPath on streams, no variety in tree implementations. It's appalling.

        Only two languages have proper XML support, Perl and P

        --

        -- Robin Berjon [berjon.com]

    • How weird, it worked out of the box for me. I even wrote a crude translator for Project Gutenberg books to turn them into DocBook articles and successfully translated a couple.

      So if this is the worst of open source and DocBook, where are the good DocBook tools for OS X?

      --Nat

      • So if this is the worst of open source and DocBook, where are the good DocBook tools for OS X?

        This was the worst of open source: a big download that wasn't debugged, was poorly documented, and didn't work.

        The "good docbook tools for OS X" that I use are the same ones I've been using for years on Linux, FreeBSD and Win*: xsltproc (from libxslt), DocBook-XSLT, openjade, DocBook-DSSSL, and the XML/SGML DTDs. Converting DocBook to PDF directly has always been tricky, and the best paths involve using TeX

        • This was the worst of open source: a big download that wasn't debugged, was poorly documented, and didn't work.

          And those characteristics differ from a release 1.0 from MicroSoft (any product) in what way?

          Oh, I get it - for open source, this is the worst possible, rather than the standard.

    • Bah, who cares if DocBook has tools? Even with the best tools it's still the Ugliest XML Vocabulary Ever (ducks)!.

      --

      -- Robin Berjon [berjon.com]