Future of LFS

Gerard Beekmans gerard at linuxfromscratch.org
Sun May 18 13:18:22 PDT 2008


 > You can view it here:
 >
 > http://lightcubesolutions.com/~jhuntwork/dLFS/

I realize it's a proof-of-concept, not a finished product. I would like 
to point out a few things. I don't mean to be sounding negative or seem 
to be against the idea.

For us to be able to use an online tool to write the book, that tool 
needs to support every kind of tag we'd use for book editing; including 
tags like <sectx>, <itemizedlist>/<listitem>, all the structures 
surrounding chapter setup, entities, section info tags, the sometimes 
tricky internal XML links, and the list goes on for a while.

Furthermore, the tool needs to work with SVN of course for all the good 
reasons.

I'm afraid that in the end an online tool gives a user buttons/links to 
click on that insert the proper start and end tags. After doing it a few 
times, you may as well type them out. If one is a reasonable fast typer, 
it is faster to type out the start and close tags as you type the rest 
of your sentence of paragraph (compared to grabbing the mouse, find the 
button, click on it, then click somewhere in the text edit field to 
start typing between the just inserted tags).

This may be a bit exaggerated (though often it's simply the truth) but 
the point is, I've never been convinced a WYSIWYG (what you see is what 
you get) editor is the right tool for us.

On the other hand, it would be nice to be able to see the formatted page 
as you're typing without having to render it every time a change is made 
and then having to open it in another program (ie: web browser).

Rather than re-invent the wheel, would a program like BlueFish be a 
possible candidate? I haven't used this program in over half a decade 
but I hear it supports XML. It may be a possible alternative to at least 
look into before deciding on a custom "in-house" application.

Also keep the following in mind: we don't need to necessarily change the 
XML structure to make it easier for other people to contribute.

In fact, anybody can contribute textual changes. That doesn't mean we 
need or even want people to submit XML code. Editors should review all 
submissions and edit for content, correctness, style, grammer, etc. The 
last thing we want is to copy and paste contributed XML into the book.

Before long, the book will develop an inconsistent format because 
everybody has a different style of writing, or English isn't their first 
language. In the end we want a book that has a professional feel to itt 
with one style of writing that is consistent throughout.

That is near impossible to accomplish unless only a handful of people 
actually update the text - those people will have worked together for a 
while and know the right styles to use while writing. And they can be 
the XML experts and translate a contribution into the proper XML format 
used by us.

Another way to overcome the XML editing issue is to convert the book to 
(La)TeX and call it a day. Yes, I'm joking (but only partially).

Gerard



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