Tuesday, January 23, 2007

XSLT 2.0, XQuery and XPath 2.0 now official!

It's official! XSLT 2.0, XQuery and XPath 2.0 are now full-fledged W3C Recommendations today.

XSLT 2.0 is da bomb! I'm still learning XQuery, but it pretty much rocks too. Now if we could just get more folks using RelaxNG, I'll be a happy camper!

DocBook XSL 1.72.0 released

The latest versions of the DocBook stylesheets have been released on sourceforge here. Included in this 1.72.0 release are the base docbook stylesheets, as well as docbook5 stylesheets.

The release notes can be found here, but essentially the highlights include:

  • Automatic sorting of glossary entries
  • WordML renamed to Roundtrip, OpenOffice support added

    Stylesheets for roundtrip conversion between documents in OpenOffice format (ODF) and DocBook XML have been added to the set of stylesheets that formerly had the collective title WordML, and that set of stylesheets has been renamed to Roundtrip to better reflect the actual scope and purpose of its contents.

    So the DocBook XSL Stylesheets now support roundtrip conversion (with certain limitations) of WordML, OpenOffice, and Apple Pages documents to and from DocBook XML.

  • Including QandASet questions in TOCs
  • Language identifier in man-page filenames and pathnames
  • index.page.number.properties property set
  • Crop marks in output from Antenna House XSL Formatter
  • More string-substitution hooks in manpages output
  • Moved verbatim properties to attribute-set
  • enhanced simple.xlink template
  • DocBook 5 compatibility

    Stylesheets now consistently support DocBook 5 attributes (such as xml:id). Also, DocBook 5 info elements are now checked along with other *info elements, and the use of name() function was replaced by local-name() so it also matches on DocBook 5 elements. These changes enable reusing the stylesheets with DocBook 5 documents with minimal fixup.

  • HTML class attributes now handled in class.attribute mode
  • arabic-indic numbering enabled in autolabels

As always, the .0 release is the test release. A follow-on .1 release should follow shortly if no errors are reported.

Friday, January 19, 2007

An XML editor for the masses

Tony DaSilva has written a very excellent and thorough review of XMLMind XXE at http://www.writersua.com/articles/xmlmind/index.html. It's a very good editor, and something you should consider if you belong to an authoring group that is new to structured markup.

Tony's review is very informative. Even though I've used the tool before, I still learned something new: interactive margins!

I've used the Standard Edition to test DocBook 5 customization layers, and it works like a champ! It's one of the few XML authoring tools that supports RelaxNG validation, too. Just try finding that support in Arbortext or XMetal!

The editor also supports DITA, though I've found it's map support a bit weak. I'm sure that will change over time.

For markup geeks and power users, I still recommend oXygen, but for authors, XMLMind is one of my new favorite choices!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Curriki and open eLearning

I ran across an interesting article in the February '07 issue of Popular Science about Curriki, a new website/organization set up by Scott McNealy to promote Open Source eLearning.

The site is: http://www.curriki.org

In March 2004, McNealy helped create the Global Education & Learning Community (GELC) to leverage open source to provide learning materials for everyone, anywhere. GELC was spun off in 2006 as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit now known as Curriki - the Global Education & Learning Community.

The content is in a Wiki format, but interestingly enough:

it can take a Texbook Wiki document and convert it to a DocBook XML format suitable as a portable eBook, or a PDF file suitable for printing. It can also package assets into portable learning objects in the form of IMS/SCORM compliant content packages. It includes tools for configuring the transformation of assets (Form to form, like XML to PDF or ODF) and packaging of assets (For specific LMSs, or with specific metadata).

We've been working to address eLearning content structure as part of the OASIS DITA Learning Content subcommittee. We will definitely need to make sure these two efforts are compatible!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

DocBook on Mac OS X

Eric Johnson posted a question to the DocBook list about using DocBook on a Mac. I hadn't really looked at this much, because my Mac is primarily for home use. Sure, I've used jEdit and oXygen on the Mac to edit XML, but that's about it.

Thanks to Google, I found Project:Omega DocBook-X. It's a project dedicated to DocBook on the OS X platform. There is a single .dmg file to download and install the necessary tools. You can get to the project home page at:

There is also an interesting article on Processing and Managing DocBook XML Documents linked from the same page. I'll have to give it a try!

UPDATE: Sean Gilligan sent me a note that:

Project Omega has been dormant for years, and I wouldn't recommend it. (I was the last one to submit improvements on it and I gave up years ago.)

I've since rolled my own Apache Maven 1.x plugin, called maven-dbsuite-plugin which I've published in fairly rough form as Open Source on Java.net.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Star Tours turns 20!

I can't beleive Star Tours is twenty years old today! My first trip to Disneyland was when I was in 7th grade, and I remember waiting in line 2 hour to ride Star Tours. It is still as amazing today, as when I climbed aboard those many years ago.

Since then, I've been to DisneyWorld three times and returned to Disneyland with my family for the 50th anniversary celebration. I've been on Star Tours many times with my kids, and we all still love it!

My favorite is probably still at MGM in DisneyWorld because of the huge Endor forest and AT-AT outside.

There is a website set up to celebrate Star Tours. Check it out at: http://www.swstartours.net.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Standards Pecha-Kucha!

Dave Megginson posted that for XML 2007, they are considering a standards pecha-kucha!

Each standards committee will have 20 slides (at 20 seconds each) to give us a quick update on what they’ve been doing over 2007 and what to expect in 2008 — that will make it possible for attendees to learn a bit about a lot of standards in a relatively short time.

I think this is a tremendously good idea! I attended the vendor pecha-kucha night at XML 2006, and found it both entertaining and informative. Michael Smith provided the impetus to get the pecha-kucha night started. I hope he'll host again, as he did a great job.

The timing would definitely a challenge (20 seconds per slide), though I have never tried presenting in a pecha-kucha format. Standards efforts I'm currently involved with include:

  • OASIS DocBook TC
  • OASIS DITA Learning Content subcommittee
  • OASIS Doc Standards Interoperability forum
  • OASIS DITA-S1000D Interoperability discussion list

Friday, January 05, 2007

Spectacular re-entry over Colorado

Several news choppers caught the re-entry of a Russian SL-4 rocket body on tape! You can see the incredible video clips here. Unfortunately, it happened before I got up. Once I saw it on the news, I was sure it wasn't a meteor, as it took too long to burn up on re-entry. Very cool!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Just call me Mercury Man

I've been trying to eat healthier over the past year, so I've been eating a lot of tuna. Specifically I've been eating the StarKist Lunch To-Go kits. These kits come with tuna, crackers, mayo, relish and a mint. I don't like mint, so I always toss them in my drawer.

So how much tuna did I eat? I counted 83 mints in my drawer! Considering I travel every third week, that's a fair amount of tuna.

I've been able to tell a difference in the tuna that is a "Product of Ecuador" and the "Product of Thailand". I much prefer the tuna from Ecuador. The Thailand ones taste metallic. Just call me Mercury Man.