In my constant search of lazyness, I was interesting in the DocBook format. I reckon that the DocBook XML format is not the most user-friendly XML format, BUT, I think it is one of the most complete one.

Why ? In fact, DocBook is appealing because of another related project : the DocBook XSL Project. This project provides the XSL stylesheets needed to convert a DocBook XML instance into whatever you want : HTML, JavaHelp, Man pages and more if needed.

Just take your DocBook document and process it with one of the many stylesheets available. That's it. One thing you realize immediatly after, is that the default XSL stylesheets aren't sexy at all. Yes, they are usable, but I want MY style, not the one everybody will use. And with zero effort.

Here come the XSL stylesheets customization. If you think like me that XSL is a like a toy, I suggest you to take a look at the DocBook files : the incarnation of the power and flexibility of XSL. You never will look a stylesheet the same way. This doesn't mean that customization is hard, but it must follow the patterns.

After struggling and googling, I managed to have two wonderful stylesheets : one for chunk HTML and one for XSL:FO. XSL:FO is then processed to produce a nice PDF document.

As a bonus, some useful links:

  • DocBook site. You can grab the DTD or the Schema.
  • DocBook XSL Project provides more than XSL (like DSSSL).
  • The XSLTProc tool for Unixes and Cygwin. Very, very fast XSL processor.
  • The PassiveTex extension to Tex. One of the various way to transform XSL:FO into PDF.