[sword-devel] radical idea

DM Smith dmsmith555 at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 16 20:06:28 MST 2005


I did an exercise for the online publisher that I worked for where we 
took xhtml, removed the forms, substituted cals table for html tables, 
and removed all the formatting elements other than class. On an as 
needed basis we added some style elements (strong, em and the like but 
not bold, italic and the like). Then we added elements for content 
markup (e.g. chapter, section, footnote).

My realization from this exercise was that html does not offer 
significant semantic markup. In looking at TEI, Dublin Core, ThML 
additions, LegalML, OSIS, and the like, it appears that others think 
that HTML is not a good document markup language. I think HTML is *a* 
good delivery markup. But this should be the transformation from a 
content markup to a delivery markup targeted for the user's specific 
device (e.g. Church projector, web browser, print, hard copy book, pda, 
phone, stand-alone application, text reader for the blind, ...)

JSword converts modules on the fly into OSIS and then uses xslt to 
transform it into HTML with a clear separation of content and 
presentation (at least as far as the Java's HTML renderer allows). My 
experience has been that we have tweaked the xsl to get better and 
better rendering of original. We have also added filtering into the xslt 
(small/large verse numbers, notes on/off, strongs on/off, morph on/off, 
verses on separate lines, ...) and we allow the users to define their 
own style sheet (granted they need to be developers) or pick from 
alternates (at least till we merge them into the parameter driven 
standard stylesheet).

If the module were to change from a rich content markup to HTML, this 
would circumvent this advantage. Having it in HTML would make it harder 
to target it to alternate interfaces such as PDF or PDA. (On my PDA, 
tables often force horizontal scrolling for the entire page. This is not 
a good thing)

For a post 1.0 release we plan to add support for using OSIS directly. 
So if an HTML module is generated from an OSIS original, I think that it 
may require us to go with the original.


Daniel Glassey wrote:

>well, you have been warned in the title. This is just thinking based
>loosely on a discussion this afternoon as we are needed to decide on
>storage issues. This is a medium-term suggestion - post BibleCS 1.5.8.
>The first part of radical idea is to throw away the RTF output filters
>(BibleCS will need to use an HTML widget or have someone implement a
>windows frontend with an HTML widget which doesn't seem unreasonable
>given that it is ok to wait 2 years between releases anyway ;) ).
>Then, since all other frontends use HTML then why not use HTML(or
>XHTML) as the basis of the storage format in sword.
>CSS would be used for styling.
>OSIS isn't designed for presentation so sword has to transform the
>stored markup to the presentational form - HTML. It seems more
>efficient to do this at module creation time rather than at runtime.
>If there is any additional markup that is needed that can't be
>implemented in straight HTML then it could be simple additions that
>sword can recognise.
>OSIS would still be the preferred base document. You would use xslt in
>a new sword import program osis2work to transform it into an HTML
>based sword work together with the sword indexes.
>And a work2osis would have to be written to do the reverse transformation.
>ThML is close enough to HTML that that conversion shouldn't be hard.
>I'm not sure how to convert GBF to this, but either via a filter or
>via OSIS make sense.
>The objection I can come up with is that it really isn't nice to the
>JSword guys who afaiu use OSIS internally, but I'll wait for that
>opinion. :)
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