Discussing what to do next

The initial proposal to revise our group description [1] generated quite a bit of discussion [2] that is still going on in related threads [3].

Along the way, we’ve had discussion of:

  • Layout/styling technologies that people have used [4]
  • Readability or otherwise of EPUB standards [5]
  • S100D IETP [20]
  • Advantages of learning German [21]
  • Silos versus outreach [22]
  • Crystal goblets and window types [6]

And threads that were started but not taken up included:

  • Listing people/companies with software that matches our definition [7]
  • Making a common glossary [8]
  • Whether “0” valid for all XSL-FO lengths [9]
  • Commenting on other people’s specs [10]

The first two suggestions for revising the group description were for keeping the focus on XSL-FO [11] and dropping the XSL-FO mentions [12], respectively.

We also heard about:

  • Needs of developers and that “Our major end user community here is not professional publishing experts.” [13]
  • “any additional participation in the PPL group will be representative of the professional publishing expert community.” [14]
  • “I know quite a few people in the Digital Publishing Interest Group who would be happy to join the conversation over here” [15]
  • “I manually modified the FO file to get the results they wanted. That was a rather painful process – and it would have been impossible, if they had to do it by themselves, as none of them seems to be willing to invest time in learning XSL-FO.” [16]
  • “I want ‘decent’ (easy to read) print. I generally use docbook stylesheets or tweak my own generic. Key point. No layout requirements which might be seen as verging on paranoia and harking back to manual typesetting.” [17]
  • “Programmatic approaches to creating PDF and Postscript are nothing new to me, nor to many programmers tasked with publishing.” [18]
  • “While it might not be hard to create a PDF file, creating a PDF file that is suitable for today’s publishing needs is.” [19]
  • “The difficulty I have with saying that we will produce XSL-FO 2.0 or even a 1.2 is that we have no reasonable expectation that it will be implemented.” [24]
  • “it’s closer to the whole shooting match that needs a review, putting it perhaps too strongly, it simply doesn’t match with what CSS offers, a dumb syntax that (nearly) does what FO does?” [25]
  • “CSS syntax is being cleaned up, but I think some of the simplicity is deceptive, because it doesn’t do as much as FO.” [26]
  • “CSS has shown a longevity and a capability to grow that I certainly didn’t expect back in 1994-1998, even though I designed it to be extensible. On the other hand, the increased size already means that it isn’t easy for people to learn CSS anymore and we should ask ourselves if it isn’t better to leave CSS alone and create a new style sheet standard that, from the start, is meant to be good enough for complex publications.” [27]
  • “XSL-FO is not suffering low rates of adoption because it’s more difficult to use than other technologies, it’s suffering because it hasn’t been sold that well.” [28]
  • “Dave Cramer’s ‘Requirements for Latin Text Layout and Pagination’ is to cover ‘requirements for pagination and layout of books in latin languages’, and the XSL-FO spec and various CSS modules are about how to instantiate pagination and layout, but there is a middle ground for material about how to do a good job at pagination and layout.” [28]
  • “So I do think there’s a lot of mileage to be had in FO tutorials and examples – when Tony mentioned SWIG I thought at first he was referring to the success of the semantic web interest group in doing that sort of outreach :)” [29]

So if you’re still reading this (even if you’ve skipped past the quotes to get to here), you’ll know that we’ve had good, robust discussion.  We’ve also had a few instances of people looking at the same information and coming to opposite conclusions, but isn’t life ever thus?

The next step is a survey based on the ideas put forward so we can quantify and prioritise what people both inside and outside the CG see us as doing.

See http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-ppl/2014Jan/0067.html for the rest of the references.  There seems to be a size limit on posts, and putting in all the references results in a ‘Bad Request’ error when saving this post.

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