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Re: [docbook] Status of PDF output with DocBook + XSL + FO?


"Robert P. J. Day" <rpjday@mindspring.com> writes:

[...]

> clearly not a docbook-related question, but i've been using xsltproc+FOP
> to generate my PDF output for quite some time now, with the addition of
> sun's jdk 1.4.2.  FOP is still incomplete, but getting better all the 
> time.

<rant>
As better as FOP may be getting, IMHO, it is still way, way short of
being useful for generating any kind of production-quality PDF output,
unless you want to spend a bunch of time making workarounds (in your FO
stylesheet customization layer and/or in your DocBook XML source) to
compensate for FOP deficiencies. Of-the-shelf, in my experience at
least, it's almost adequate for generating draft output, but that's it.

Unless your documents are relatively simple and your standards (and your
users' standards) for PDF quality are relatively humble, I think you'd
be much better off, if your an individual, trying to manage to pay the
US $300 for an individual user license for XEP, or, if you're in a
corporate environment, getting a developer or server license. IMHO, it's
well worth the money.

Yeah, I know it's a proprietary app, but when you've got real work to
do, it comes down to thinking about more than just the application cost.
There's an adage about free software: "It's only free only as long as
your time is worth nothing", which ain't totally fair, but still has a
lot of truth to it. If your main reason for using free software is to
reduce your costs, and you need to blow, say 10 hours of your personal
time (conservatie estimate) tweaking your kit to get decent output from
FOP, you might be better off paying the $300 for XEP and having that
time free instead to do other work (or play).

Yeah, I know, outside of it being no-cost, there are lots of other
reasons for using and contributing to free software development -- one
of the main ones being that you have access to the source code and can
alter to have the app do whatever you want. But in the case of FO
engines, it seems like there's not all that much need to do that -- you
just want the engine to do what you expect, what the XSL-FO spec says it
should do. XEP does that.

All that said, there are of course many open-source apps that pretty
much obviate the need for non-free alternatives: libxml/libxslt, for
example, or Apache's http server. But FOP ain't in that class.
</rant>

  --Mike

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