DocBook v4.1 becomes official OASIS specification
23:02, 8 Feb 2001 UTC | Michael Smith

Last week, OASIS members completed voting on the current XML and SGML versions of the DocBook DTD, approving the DTDs and their accompanying documentation as an official OASIS specification.

About DocBook

Though the previous (v3.1) version of DocBook (released in February 1999) was apparently an OASIS specification also, the current versions of the DTDs (which have been available since last summer) are the first to be approved under a new OASIS technical committee process that was implemented last fall.

DocBook has become widely used for authoring books, articles, and papers of all kinds. In particular, it has become an industry-standard vocabulary for authoring computer hardware and software documentation in XML/SGML. Many commercial editing- and publishing-tool vendors provide built-in support for DocBook in their applications, and many open-source packages are available that provide integrated DocBook support, including the Debian task-sgml package, the docbook-tools package (RPMs), and Paul Kinnucan's XAE.

DocBook is well-documented (see Walsh and Muellner's DocBook: The Definitive Guide), provides a sophisticated customization layer so that users can tailor it to their specific needs, is accompanied by freely available XSL and DSSSL stylesheets for use in transforming DocBook source for HTML and print publication (as well as other utilities for converting to UNIX man pages, Texinfo files, and Microsoft HTML Help), and is supported through active DocBook-specific mailing lists.

Commercial organizations known to use DocBook for some of their document authoring include Novell, Sun, Hewlett-Packard, SCO, and Red Hat. Open-source projects that use DocBook include the KDE, GNOME, FreeBSD, Debian, and Linux documentation projects.

DocBook history

OASIS has been the home of the DocBook Technical Committee since 1998, with Eduardo Gutentag serving as the original chair. DocBook was first designed and implemented by HaL Computer Systems and O'Reilly & Associates in 1991. In 1994, responsibility for development of the DTD was taken over by the Davenport Group, an independent entity whose original members included Eve Maler, Jon Bosak, Dale Dougherty, Ralph Ferris, Dave Hollander, Murray Maloney, Conleth O'Connell, Nancy Paisner, Mike Rogers, and Jean Tappan.

DocBook development is now in the hands of the voting members of the DocBook Technical Committee at OASIS: Norman Walsh (chair), Terry Allen, Tony Graham, Dennis Evans, and Michael Sabrio. In May 2000, the Technical Committee produced the first official XML version of DocBook. More recently, experimental versions of DocBook were made available in the W3C XML Schema language, Murata (Makoto)'s RELAX, and James Clark's TREX.

The Technical Committee has stated that the next major version of DocBook, v5.0, will be an XML DTD that includes "sufficient parameterization to allow SGML features to be 'turned on' with a very small customization layer", which the committee will provide.

For more detailed descriptions of the history of DocBook, see Dale Dougherty's article The Making of the DocBook DTD and the What is DocBook? page at the official DocBook site.

xmlhack: developer news from the XML community

Front page | Search | Find XML jobs

Related categories