Sunday, January 18, 2009

Still enjoying DOPUS for xml work at home

I posted back in July about using a system called DOPUS to do some xml work at home. What I did was start a short story called "Dragon Hunter" and used DocBook xml to write it.

My goal was to find a use for DOPUS, which makes it easy to set up a DocBook xml system that can conver your xml input to PDF, HTML, RTF and other formats. The support for RTF is key with a story, since I expect to use Word format to send stories to editors.

It's been a good experience. I had to switch to a different laptop one day because someone in the family needed to use mine, and it took me only minutes to copy my DOPUS system over to a different device. Then all I had to do was install the XMLMind editor, and I was back in business. This is all because aside from the editor, the system requires no installation; it's just a filesystem that you copy over.

There are downsides. If I want to change some minor formatting thing, I have to edit the XSL parameters and test my changes by rebuilding my document. If it's something I already know about, it's easy, and if it's something I've never changed in DocBook before, then I have to do some research.

It's a tradeoff. If I need something that's specific to this story, it's a cost; but most formatting changes are things I'd want to do in any story, and all of those things are preserved for my use with future stories: I'm tweaking my master story template, essentially, as I go.

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