Options for working with supplied Arbortext xml

J

Jim Dornbos

I have a customer who has supplied a collection of xml, png and dtd
files to me. The xml's second line indicates the files were created by
Arbortext: <!--Arbortext, Inc., 1988-2010, v.4002-->.

I need to be able to format the supplied files into a user manual layout
and create PDFs as output. No stylesheets were supplied.

Short of investing in an Arbortext installation, any suggestions for an
xml newbie as to what software I should consider for formatting and
outputting these files? I work with variable data printing software that
will xml as input, but that seems like the wrong tool for the job.

As I look around for Arbortext info, much of what I'm finding is several
years old and more. Are there consultants/freelancers still out there
for Arbortext that I could hire this work out to?

I appreciate any help you can offer to get me headed in the right direction.

Thanks,
Jim
 
M

Manuel Collado

El 19/03/2011 17:58, Jim Dornbos escribió:
I have a customer who has supplied a collection of xml, png and dtd files
to me. The xml's second line indicates the files were created by Arbortext:
<!--Arbortext, Inc., 1988-2010, v.4002-->.

I need to be able to format the supplied files into a user manual layout
and create PDFs as output. No stylesheets were supplied.

Short of investing in an Arbortext installation, any suggestions for an xml
newbie as to what software I should consider for formatting and outputting
these files? I work with variable data printing software that will xml as
input, but that seems like the wrong tool for the job.

As I look around for Arbortext info, much of what I'm finding is several
years old and more. Are there consultants/freelancers still out there for
Arbortext that I could hire this work out to?

I appreciate any help you can offer to get me headed in the right direction.

Ever heard about Google :) A simple search gives:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbortext

And from here you can go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parametric_Technology_Corporation
http://www.ptc.com/products/index.htm
 
J

Jim Dornbos

Manuel said:
Ever heard about Google :) A simple search gives:


I appreciate the leads. I'm not having trouble finding what Arbortext is
(read the wiki a month ago), or where to buy it from (been to their
site, found a dealer, already have a quote.) To buy the Arbortext
components needed to accomplish the tasks above from a PTC dealer will
cost $10,000+.

I was looking for alternatives from people who have some experience with
xml publishing. If there are no other alternatives, that's fine. I
appreciate that there are others out there who know more about what's
going on in this publishing space than I do & and was hoping to solicit
their input.

Thanks,
Jim
 
P

Peter Flynn

El 19/03/2011 17:58, Jim Dornbos escribi�:

Arbortext is a company supplying a very large and powerful XML editing
and formatting suite. It's excellent (they have been doing this stuff
since the SGML days), but very expensive.

But the whole point about XML is that it is not tied to any particular
manufacturer, so you can use any XML-conformant you wish to process it.

I suggest you pick yourself a good XML editor (there are hundreds), and
learn XSLT, which is a transformation language for turning XML into
other formats.

There are two main routes to PDF:

a. XSL:FO, which converts XML to Formatting Objects. You then need an
FO processor to turn that into a PDF.

b. XSLT, and convert the XML to LaTeX, which can produce PDFs.

My personal preference is for the XSLT-LaTeX route because I find it
much faster; LaTeX already understands documents and typographics, and
has a vast library of packages (plugins) for automating styling. I treat
LaTeX as an API for creating PDFs. But many people prefer to learn
XSL:FO instead. It's a personal choice.

So is the editor. I use Emacs because it's reliable, runs on all
platforms, and its psgml, xxml, xslide, and latex modes handle all the
controls I need. But it needs learning, and many people prefer editors
with lots of icons and toolbars and menus. Do not be tempted under any
circumstances to use a non-XML editor on XML documents.

Saxon is the best XSL[T] processor I know (saxon.sourceforge.net), but
there are several others. IMHO don't bother learning XSLT 1.0 -- it is
being superseded by XSLT 2 which is much better.

LaTeX comes from the TeX Users Group (www.tug.org) as well as many other
sources both free and commercial. It too runs on everything.

The above are all free or Open Source in one form or another. There are
also lots of excellent commercial solutions if you have the money.

One thing not covered is a designer. Unless you have some typographic
design experience, you'll need to know what you want the manual to look
like, and what functionality it is going to have in it. But there are
plenty of places to ask for advice.

Let us know how you get on.

///Peter
 
J

Joe Kesselman

I suggest you pick yourself a good XML editor (there are hundreds), and
learn XSLT, which is a transformation language for turning XML into
other formats.
There are two main routes to PDF:

Or you can use XSLT to render the document into HTML, if you prefer.
Again, you'd have to write or obtain a stylesheet which describes that
transformation.

(Statement of bias: I was one of the folks behind Apache's Xalan
XSLT/XPath processor, and I'm currently working on IBM's own processor
for these standards plus XQuery. Obviously, I think these are Good Things.)
But many people prefer to learn
XSL:FO instead. It's a personal choice.

The original dream was that browsers would implement XSL:FO, and that
XSLT stylesheets would be used to render not just XML, but HTML, into
XSL:FO for display. This would take HTML back toward its original
design, where it described the meaning of the document rather than being
(ab)used to try to do page layout, and let users customize how they
wanted documents presented. Alas, that isn't the way things have
evolved. I still hope we can someday break through the inertia and get
people to see that all the advantages of Model/View/Controller program
design also apply to document presentation.
IMHO don't bother learning XSLT 1.0 -- it is
being superseded by XSLT 2 which is much better.

I half agree. If you don't know what environment you'll be running in,
1.0 is more widely available. For example, Sun Java still ships with an
XSLT processor based on the Apache Xalan code (a backlevel version,
actually, unless Oracle fixes that now that they own Sun), and even
Apache Xalan still supports only 1.0. And for a great many stylesheets,
it's a difference which makes no difference, since XSLT 2.0 is mostly a
superset of 1.0.

But, yeah, XSLT 2.0 cleaned up some of 1.0's more frustrating omissions,
and it does add some neat stuff.

(IBM does have a processor which supports XSLT 2.0, XPath 2.0, and
XQuery... but I believe it currently ships only with Websphere.)

--
Joe Kesselman,
http://www.love-song-productions.com/people/keshlam/index.html

{} ASCII Ribbon Campaign | "may'ron DaroQbe'chugh vaj bIrIQbej" --
/\ Stamp out HTML mail! | "Put down the squeezebox & nobody gets hurt."
 
M

Manuel Collado

El 19/03/2011 23:00, Peter Flynn escribió:
...
... the whole point about XML is that it is not tied to any particular
manufacturer, so you can use any XML-conformant you wish to process it.

I suggest you pick yourself a good XML editor (there are hundreds), and
learn XSLT, which is a transformation language for turning XML into
other formats.

There are two main routes to PDF:

a. XSL:FO, which converts XML to Formatting Objects. You then need an
FO processor to turn that into a PDF.

b. XSLT, and convert the XML to LaTeX, which can produce PDFs.

My personal preference is for the XSLT-LaTeX route because I find it
much faster; LaTeX already understands documents and typographics, and
has a vast library of packages (plugins) for automating styling. I treat
LaTeX as an API for creating PDFs. But many people prefer to learn
XSL:FO instead. It's a personal choice.

c. A third possibility is to convert to DocBook. It is a widely used,
powerful document mark-up language (can be seen as a "de-facto"
standard). And there are free or cheap tools to process it.

Conversion to DocBook is probably the simplest one.
So is the editor. I use Emacs because it's reliable, runs on all
platforms, and its psgml, xxml, xslide, and latex modes handle all the
controls I need. But it needs learning, and many people prefer editors
with lots of icons and toolbars and menus. Do not be tempted under any
circumstances to use a non-XML editor on XML documents.

My editor of choice is XXE from XmlMind. It is a sort of WYSIWYG editor
than be customized with just a CSS stylesheet. And has support for DocBook.
 
J

Jim Dornbos

Peter Flynn wrote said:
But the whole point about XML is that it is not tied to any particular
manufacturer, so you can use any XML-conformant you wish to process it.

I suggest you pick yourself a good XML editor (there are hundreds), and
learn XSLT, which is a transformation language for turning XML into
other formats.

There are two main routes to PDF:

a. XSL:FO, which converts XML to Formatting Objects. You then need an
FO processor to turn that into a PDF.

b. XSLT, and convert the XML to LaTeX, which can produce PDFs.

Thanks for your input folks.

When I first started looking for options I found the DITA project.
Downloaded files, ran through the getting started stuff and produced
some PDFs. But when I turned to my customer supplied files, I was making
no progress turning them into anything useful.

One of the issues being that the tags are in German - and I speak none.
So I started looking around for more graphical tools. I use
w3schools.com often when I need a quick brush-up on a language, and
recalled somebody advertising xml tools there - and ended up downloading
trial versions of Altova's XMLSpy and StyleVision.

I guess I was hoping to find something that would examine the xml, and
present a list of elements found in the file, then allow me to assign
styling attributes to those elements. Possibly that's in StyleVision and
I just need to spend more than 15 minutes with the app to give it a fair
try. XMLMind's products, as recommended by Manuel, also seem to be a
promising avenue to try. I have seen them mentioned here and there as I
have looked around for information.

I'll do some more work on understanding XSLT but also was looking for a
reality check before recommending that we buy a license for Arbortext
for this project.

Thanks all for your help.
Jim
 
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> Arbortext is a company supplying a very large and powerful XML editing
> and formatting suite. It's excellent (they have been doing this stuff
> since the SGML days), but very expensive.

Those who are not in the Arbortext sales channel and who have not had pricing in a long time should likely not be ballparking the software. For the record: Editor is less expensive than FrameMaker and XMetaL. It can work with the OT, if that's what you want. Depending on the configuration, it is comparable to RenderX, Author-IT, and MadCap.
 
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> Arbortext is a company supplying a very large and powerful XML editing
> and formatting suite. It's excellent (they have been doing this stuff
> since the SGML days), but very expensive.

Those who are not in the Arbortext sales channel and who have not had pricing in a long time should likely not be ballparking the software.

For the record: Arbortext Editor is less expensive than FrameMaker and XMetaL. Depending on the configuration, it is comparable to RenderX, Author-IT, and MadCap. It also is compatible with the DITA OT.
 
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>>> I have a customer who has supplied a collection of xml, png and dtd
>>> files to me. The xml's second line indicates the files were created
>>> by Arbortext:
>>> <!--Arbortext, Inc., 1988-2010, v.4002-->.
>>>
>>> I need to be able to format the supplied files into a user manual
>>> layout and create PDFs as output. No stylesheets were supplied.


That's just an XML comment. You don't need the Arbortext solution to process these files. Arbortext produces PURE XML files and you can process them with any XML publishing tools, many of which have been discussed in this thread.
 
L

Liz Fraley

I have a customer who has supplied a collection of xml, png and dtd
files to me. The xml's second line indicates the files were created by
Arbortext: <!--Arbortext, Inc., 1988-2010, v.4002-->.

I need to be able to format the supplied files into a user manual layout
and create PDFs as output. No stylesheets were supplied.

Short of investing in an Arbortext installation, any suggestions for an
xml newbie as to what software I should consider for formatting and
outputting these files? I work with variable data printing software that
will xml as input, but that seems like the wrong tool for the job.

As I look around for Arbortext info, much of what I'm finding is several
years old and more. Are there consultants/freelancers still out there
for Arbortext that I could hire this work out to?

There is a very short list of qualified Arbortext partners:
http://squidoo.com/arbortext

However, if you have XML files that were created in Arbortext, there
is no requirement to do any post production using Arbortext. Arbortext
writes PURE XML. Any proprietary Arbortext extensions in the XML are
implemented as Processing Instructions, an XML mechanism. You can
process XML files created in Arbortext with any tools that process
native XML.

How much work it is for you to do it, that's up to you, your
resources, and skill availability/restrictions.

I'm all for more people learning XSL and DIY, but be sure to put a
cost to that before you just go off running.

Liz
 
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On Mar 19, 12:58*pm, Jim Dornbos <[email protected]> wrote:
> I have a customer who has supplied a collection of xml, png and dtd
> files to me. The xml's second line indicates the files were created by
> Arbortext: <!--Arbortext, Inc., 1988-2010, v.4002-->.
>
> I need to be able to format the supplied files into a user manual layout
> and create PDFs as output. No stylesheets were supplied.
>
> Short of investing in an Arbortext installation, any suggestions for an
> xml newbie as to what software I should consider for formatting and
> outputting these files? I work with variable data printing software that
> will xml as input, but that seems like the wrong tool for the job.
>
> As I look around for Arbortext info, much of what I'm finding is several
> years old and more. Are there consultants/freelancers still out there
> for Arbortext that I could hire this work out to?

There is a very short list of qualified Arbortext partners:
http://squidoo.com/arbortext

However, if you have XML files that were created in Arbortext, there is no requirement to do any post production using Arbortext. Arbortext writes PURE XML. Any proprietary Arbortext extensions in the XML are implemented as Processing Instructions, an XML mechanism. You can process XML files created in Arbortext with any tools that process native XML.

How much work it is for you to do it, that's up to you, your resources, and skill availability/restrictions.

I'm all for more people learning XSL, but put a cost to that before you just go running down that course.

Liz
 
P

Peter Flynn

Thanks for your input folks.

When I first started looking for options I found the DITA project.
Downloaded files, ran through the getting started stuff and produced
some PDFs. But when I turned to my customer supplied files, I was making
no progress turning them into anything useful.

A lot depends on what you want to end up doing. DITA provides some
excellent methodology for the long-term maintenance of structured
documentation, but if all you want to do is print it, it's overkill.
One of the issues being that the tags are in German - and I speak none.
So I started looking around for more graphical tools.

This may not be a useful approach. Understanding what is required is
probably more important. Is the document text itself in German?
I use w3schools.com often when I need a quick brush-up on a language,
and recalled somebody advertising xml tools there - and ended up
downloading trial versions of Altova's XMLSpy and StyleVision.

Read more about editors at http://xml.silmaril.ie/software.html#editors
I guess I was hoping to find something that would examine the xml, and
present a list of elements found in the file, then allow me to assign
styling attributes to those elements.

There are some systems which start to do this, but the complexity of the
task is usually beyond them.
Possibly that's in StyleVision and
I just need to spend more than 15 minutes with the app to give it a fair
try. XMLMind's products, as recommended by Manuel, also seem to be a
promising avenue to try. I have seen them mentioned here and there as I
have looked around for information.

I'll do some more work on understanding XSLT but also was looking for a
reality check before recommending that we buy a license for Arbortext
for this project.

There is not necessarily a 1:1 match between what is in the document,
and what you want on the page. XSLT is a programming language, so it can
fetch and carry material from different parts of the document to
different parts of the output. Trying to do this in a purely graphical
environment is technically challenging, which is why understanding what
you need to do with the document is important before you start...and you
have not told us enough yet to be able to judge what techniques are most
appropriate.

There is certainly no need to spend money on tools if this is a
limitation. Everything you described so far can be done with Open Source
software.

///Peter
 
P

Peter Flynn

There is a very short list of qualified Arbortext partners:
http://squidoo.com/arbortext

However, if you have XML files that were created in Arbortext, there
is no requirement to do any post production using Arbortext. Arbortext
writes PURE XML. Any proprietary Arbortext extensions in the XML are
implemented as Processing Instructions, an XML mechanism. You can
process XML files created in Arbortext with any tools that process
native XML.

How much work it is for you to do it, that's up to you, your
resources, and skill availability/restrictions.

I'm all for more people learning XSL and DIY, but be sure to put a
cost to that before you just go off running.

Very well said, something that it often ignored.

The cost of learning is an investment, which should be spread across
future use of the knowledge. It is a common error in costing to charge
the entire cost of learning against the first project to use it...a bit
like charging the first driver at the tollbooth the entire cost of the
freeway. Only accountants make this kind of mistake with impunity.

///Peter
 
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need to publish arbor text files to pdf

adding to the above discussion we have recieved css files also from our client. will the latex solution work in our case.

Are there any other low cost alternatives to arbortext publishing engine.
 

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