I remember the first time I looked at Simple DocBook. I have always enjoyed compiling my writing–I wrote my senior thesis using LaTeX. When I found DocBook, I was hooked–it was easier to use and understand than any of the TeX derivatives, and the Simplified grammar had just what I needed for technical documentation. I used it to write my JAAS article.
But, I remember it being a huge hassle to set up. You had to download openjade, compile it on some systems, set up some environment variables, point to certain configuration files and in general do quite a bit of fiddling. I grew so exasperated that I didn’t even setup the XML to PDF conversion, just the XML to HTML.
Well, I went back a few weeks ago, and found things had improved greatly. With the help of this document explaining how to set DocBook up on Windows (updated 12/2/2006 to fix a broken link) I was able to generate PDF and HTML files quickly. In fact, with the DocBook XSL transformations and the power of FOP, turning a Simplified DocBook article into a snazzy looking PDF file is as simple as this (stolen from here):
java -cp "C:\Programs\java\fop.jar; \
C:\Programs\java\xalan.jar; C:\Programs\java\xerces.jar; \
C:\Programs\java\logkit-1.0b4.jar;C:\Programs\java\avalon-framework-4.0.jar" \org.apache.fop.apps.Fop -xsl \ "C:\user\default\xml\stylesheets\docbook-xsl-1.45\fo\docbook.xsl" \ -xml test.xml -pdf test.pdf
Wrap that up in a shell script, and you have a javac for dcuments.