XML-based Electronic Publishing, XSL an issue
10:54, 14 Jun 2000 UTC | Leigh Dodds

In an opening key note speech at XML Europe 2000, Kenneth Brooks, Vice President of Digital Content at Barnes and Noble listed the issues which remain unresolved in their XML-based publishing framework.

The framework has evolved to use conventional scanning and OCR techniques to produce a intermediary XML format from books already in print. This intermediary format is then transformed into HTML and other formats suitable for use by e-book readers.

XSL featured prominently in the issues list. Brooks commented that the capability of XSL to perform end-to-end production of print quality pages is still unproven. Best effort transformations followed by hand-tuning of the output still hasn't been ruled out as a final option. At present to support paged-based output, PDF versions of the documents are still maintained.

A second major issue mentioned was the management of multiple XSL stylesheets. Alongside structural transforms to re-purpose content for the required end format, styling transforms are made to produce the final presentation. This final step may require stylesheets specific to a given publisher, and potentially even per book to yield faithful reproductions.

How many of these problems will be solved by finalisation of the XSL-FO specification is unclear. Its certain however that the e-publishing industry will be looking for early tool support for the specification. Brooks invited the XML community, particularly tools vendors and developers, to help participate.

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