[OS X TeX] OT: DocBook vs. LaTeX

Siep Kroonenberg siepo at cybercomm.nl
Thu Jul 15 16:09:56 CEST 2004

On Thu, Jul 15, 2004 at 02:05:52PM -0400, Kevin Walzer wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Does anyone on the list have experience with DocBook as a method for
> writing documentation? I've looked into a it a little bit because it
> seems to be very popular among software developers, especially
> open-source, while LaTeX seems to get a bad rap. What I've found,
> though, is frighteningly complex (it's XML-based and has hundreds of
> tags), is lacking in good tools, at least on the Mac, and ends up with
> the same kind of output as LaTeX--printed and HTML information,
> generally. I have found pdflatex and htlatex to be perfect tools to
> produce what I need, so I am really lost as to what advantages DocBook
> might have. Any perspective is appreciated.
> - --
> Kevin Walzer, PhD

I have written some documentation in docbook format. I wanted some
hands-on experience, and this was just the right project for it. As
a bonus, I got the documentation in manpage format for free. I had
some trouble getting things to work (under Linux), but now I can
convert to man pages, [x]html and xsl-fo. Basically, all it took was
the docbook stylesheets and dtds and an xslt processor.

There is also a package `docbook into ConTeXt', but I didn't
try that.

As to the complexity of docbook: you don't have to use all those
hundreds of docbook tags. Still, LaTeX is certainly more concise and
more convenient for authoring.  If you just want html and print/pdf
and are familiar with LaTeX, then LaTeX is the fastest way to get

O'Reilly makes heavy use of xml in one form or another for their
books, many of which are also available in html.

Siep Kroonenberg
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