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Re: (off topic?) Docbook? Re: manlint?

From: Ingo Schwarze
Subject: Re: (off topic?) Docbook? Re: manlint?
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2020 11:14:37 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.12.2 (2019-09-21)

Hi Marc,

Marc Chantreux wrote on Tue, Sep 15, 2020 at 08:07:39AM +0200:

> I loved the docbook structure and metainfos

Then you only had a very superficial look at DocBook.
In fact, the design of the DocBook markup language
is of extremely poor quality.  For details, see:

> but ran away because of xml.

It is true that XML is a vastly overengineered, heavy-weight,
and very cumbersome markup language framework.

But the many specific ways in which DocBook is ill-designed
are much worse than the fact that it uses XML.

It would almost certainly be possible to design an XML-based
markup language that would be good enough for practical use in
software documentation, but that's not DocBook.  Then again,
there is no need to do that work because both the roff(7)
and the TeX markup language frameworks are clearly superior
to XML.

> the combo pug/docbook would be nice to me but i have the feeling
> that xml (and its well deserved decay) killed docbook.

I never heard about pug, but in view of the many terrible mistakes
made in DocBook language design, blaming XML feels like a distortion
to me.

> is the docbook community still active?

I'm not convinced a "community" ever existed.  IIUC, it was a
design-by-committee large-corporation project from the start.

> are the tools maintained?

It doesn't matter much.  The toolchain is of such abysmal quality
that it's besically useless even if it were maintained.  The man(7)
output of the standard DocBook toolchain is by far the worst man(7)
code you can find anywhere.  It is precisely the opposite of what
esr@ is doing with doclifter: that output is full of blatant roff(7)
syntax errors, full of abuse of non-portable and poorly understood
low-level roff(7) features, and usually causing severe misformatting.
On top of that, the concept of using XSLT is very fragile for
generating roff(7) output because XSLT is best suited for output
languages where line breaks and spaces are syntactically equivalent
and where blank lines and indentation are syntactically insignificant.
Using XSLT to generate output in a language like roff(7) where line
breaks, blank lines, indentation, and strings of multiple space
characters are all syntactically significant is very difficult and
very fragile.

So even if someone would try to maintain this mess, decent
results could not be expected.


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