REVIEW - DocBook Publishing


DocBook Publishing


Joe Brockmeier, Kara Pritchard



Course Technology (2001)




Francis Glassborow


June 2001



This is a good book that achieves what it sets out to do

Many of you know that I have recently been looking at XML to consider how it impacts on publishing. My interest has not just been in alternatives for ACCU periodicals but consideration of the way XML can empower us to do things differently. As I have continued my research I kept on coming up against the term 'DocBook'. When I noticed this book in a publisher's catalogue I felt that it would be useful to read it and find out a bit more.

DocBook is an SGML or XML DTD. (I think that the author is a little fuzzy in his understanding of the relationship between SGML and XML but not enough so to seriously impact the value of this book.) DocBook is an open standard and though it originated with O'Reilly in about 1991 it has been passed around a bit. The current owner is OASIS (Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards. It is actively being worked on to keep it up-to-date. For example at the time this book was written, work was going on developing a DocBook XML Schema.

If you want to try using XML for your publications - both hardcopy and electronic - DocBook would be a reasonable place to start. Life is not long enough for everyone to try to do things from scratch. In addition, there is a considerable advantage in using a well-planned DTD first. Later you might like to work on your own.

I enjoyed reading this book enough to resent the fact that I lacked the time to make full use of what I was learning and so incorporate it into my set of working skills.

This is a good book that achieves what it sets out to do. Were I an expert on the subject I suspect I could pick some holes in it but that should not detract from its value. Unlike books on XML, this book sets out to introduce you to a use of it and thereby is valuable to all those who simply want to get the job done. I have a strong sense that those that write documentation as well as periodicals and books could benefit from studying this book. If you want to know more about DocBook read this book.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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