[UFO Chicago] Docbook vs TeX (Was: more oldies but goodies)

Neil R. Ormos ormos at ripco.com
Wed Jan 7 07:59:42 PST 2015

jay at m5.chicago.il.us wrote:
> Brian Sobolak wrote:

>> - nano, because it only has like 8 commands
>> - rsync, for backups
>> - docbook (thanks Jim!) for writing in text and then deciding later
>> which format I want to push it into.

> I never heard of docbook.  Apparently I have missed too many meetings
> this past year.  How does it differ from, e.g., TeX?

Docbook is an XML-based (or for older versions,
SGML-based) markup language that is intended to
allow an author to write and mark-up a document
"once" without committing to a particular
end-product output format.  The Docbook document
can be processed to produce useful output in a number 
of other formats, with organization and
structure appropriate to such formats, by means of
stylesheet transformations (XSLT) or other
converters. Output formats include single-page and
"chunked" html, LaTeX, Unix man pages, and

TeX is intended as a typesetting language, and has
features of such generality that it would be
extremely difficult to, say, read a TeX source
file and convert it into a useful, organized,
structured HTML document, without imposing an
artificial discipline on the structure of the TeX
document that TeX itself does not require.  Thus,
while it is possible to produce an HTML file that
mimics the appearance of printed output from TeX,
that rendition may not be appropriate for other
formats, and the inability automatically to
discern structure and organization makes it nearly
impossible to reliably convert the document into a
another high-level representation that has a
different document or page structure.

Docbook may be better compared to LaTeX, which for
some purposes may be considered a front-end to TeX
that imposes the artificial discipline of a
limited group of well-defined document structures.

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