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5.2. DocBook: What it is and why we use it

According to the official DocBook web site,

 

DocBook is a general purpose XML and SGML document type particularly well suited to books and papers about computer hardware and software (though it is by no means limited to these applications).

 
--DocBook.org 

TipFor the impatient
 

In the next sections we will be explaining about the theoretical side of DocBook, its origins, development, advantages and disadvantages. If you just want the practical side, check out these sections for an overview of HOWTO DocBook: , Appendix D, and Appendix E from this guide.

CautionFor the beginner
 

We wish to stress again the fact that any open document format will be accepted. If you feel more comfortable with plain text, OpenOffice or HTML, that is fine with us. If you do not look forward to learning DocBook, LDP volunteerd will convert your document to DocBook XML. To us, the most important task for our authors is the actual writing, not the formatting, keep that in mind!

From the point of submission onwards, however, you will have to maintain your document in this XML format, but that's a piece of cake. Promised.

Although there are other DTDs used to write documentation, there are a few reasons not to use them.

  • DocBook is the most popular DTD, being used by more than a dozen major open source projects from GNOME to Python to FreeBSD.

  • The tools for DocBook are more developed than others. DocBook support is included in most Linux distributions, allowing you to send raw files to be processed at the receiver's end.

  • And finally, DocBook has an extensive set of tags (over 300 in all) which is very useful when you are trying to describe the content of a document. Fortunately for new authors the majority of them do not need to be used for simple documentation.

Still not convinced? Eric Raymond has written a DocBook Demystification HOWTO which may help.

Convinced, but still not comfortable with the thought of working with DocBook? Give David Lawyer's Howtos-with-LinuxDoc-mini-HOWTO a try.

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