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From Berin Loritsch <blorit...@apache.org>
Subject Re: [Proposal] Generated Docs
Date Mon, 08 Oct 2001 16:17:50 GMT
Doug Davis wrote:
> 
> Berin,
> I'm not quite clear on what your proposal exact is.  Right now all
> of the docs (should be, or at least at one point they were) hand-coded,
> which is one of your options.  Does this mean that if we continue to
> hand-code 'em then you're ok with it?  The site really isn't very large
> and I don't see it growing very much more .
> -Dug

There are several types of docs that can and should eventually be written.
There are architectural docs and code standards docs (in addition to Sun's
standards) that help new developers get up to speed quicker.  There are
user docs that help people who use the tool.  And finally, there are
installation docs that cover the basic installation procedure and any
possible gotcha's that may arise in a few situations.

Also, sometimes the docs need to span several pages.

There are mroe docs that need to be written.  I would like to have the
framework in place to write them--without having to traverse tons of
extraneous HTML in the process.

I have helped in documenting Avalon and Cocoon--and would like to do
the same for Axis.  That way, once it is in written form, everyone
can be on the same page when we use different terminology--such as
the distinction between services and handlers.  This isn't currently
there.  Trying to get one person to do all the documentation doesn't
scale well either.  There may be different types of docs that I haven't
thought of that someone else will.  You'd be surprised at how the
documentation will grow as the project matures.

> 
> Berin Loritsch <bloritsch@apache.org> on 10/08/2001 11:43:10 AM
> 
> Please respond to axis-dev@xml.apache.org
> 
> To:   Axis Development <axis-dev@xml.apache.org>
> cc:
> Subject:  [Proposal] Generated Docs
> 
> It has come to my attention that the docs in Axis are hand-coded or
> generated
> from a tool like DreamWeaver.  In an open environment, this is less than
> optimal for several reasons.  The first of which is that not everyone has
> access to the tool (as good or bad as it may be).  Therefore their only
> recourse is to open up a text editor and hand modify the HTML to include
> their new text.  There is a point where documentation generated by another
> open source tool like Cocoon, Anakia, or Stylebook makes document writing
> easier.
> 
> Before I get too far into details, I would like to say that I appreciate
> the presentation of the current documentation, and I would like the new
> tool to maintain the look and feel.  All three of the tools I mentioned
> in the prior paragraph can accomplish this goal.
> 
> When Hand Coding Is Enough
> --------------------------
> Let's face it, adding a separation between content and presentation does
> trade one layer of complexity for another.  In my experience with web
> application development, when you have one person creating all the
> content for a small site you don't really need tools to generate the
> HTML.  The overhead of setting up the environment is more than the effort
> of simply creating the pages.  This is true up to a threshold.  I have
> found that when you get up above 6-8 pages the effort of setting up
> an environment comes below the effort involved in creating the pages.
> 
> Open Source and Open Documentation
> ----------------------------------
> The Open Source solutions also encourage an Open Documentation approach.
> In fact, in many projects the documentation is not written by the
> developers.
> User documentation is more effective when it is written by a user.  These
> people who are contributing documentation are providing something that is
> every bit as valuable as the code itself.  Anything we can do to ensure
> that the content is all present and current is a step in the right
> direction.  In most cases where there is good documentation--or at least
> alot of documentation is has been written or edited by several people.
> 
> By separating content and presentation, you separate two concerns that
> do not need to be intertwined.  You also create an environment where people
> who want to add content don't have to wade through several layers of TABLE,
> DIV, and FONT tags to figure out where to place the content.  You also
> ensure that all your HTML is correct and has a consistent style throughout
> the page.  There have been several times where I had to debug HTML to find
> out why the page didn't display the information only to find out that
> someone
> else had placed the text between some TR tags instead of the TD tags (prior
> to migrating to generated documentation).
> 
> The Tools
> ---------
> Currently there are three tools used accross the Apache java projects:
> Cocoon, Stylebook, and Anakia.  All three tools have differing levels
> of complexity and support.  Since I am not new to templating engines I
> will post what I know about each of the tools.
> 
> Anakia is used by several Jakarta projects and the main Jakarta site
> itself.  It uses Velocity as the templating engine.  The Velocity templates
> do not use standard XSLT, and instead use its own "markup".  I am not
> that familiar with this tool, and since I would most likely be the one
> setting up the environment, I wouldn't opt for it.  Several folks swear
> by it, and I am not criticizing the tool.  I am merely saying it is a
> learning curve I don't want to incur right now.
> 
> Stylebook is used by several XML (.apache.org) projects, and the main
> xml.apache.org site.  It is a completely undocumented project, without
> even visibility on the xml.apache.org site.  Several people have complained
> about this particular templating engine--but it has some points that do
> need to be considered: it uses standard XSLT, and provides a migration
> path to Cocoon based generation.
> 
> Cocoon is more than just a templating engine, however it is used to
> generate it's own docs as well as Avalon's docs.  It's downside is that
> the environment is a little more complex to set up--however the power
> of the system is incredible.  Cocoon uses everything from standard XSLT
> OR Velocity to custom transformers that allow you to process XInclude
> operations and more.  Another benefit is that it provides mechanisms to
> generate PDF documentation alongside the HTML generation.
> 
> The Cost
> --------
> The first myth that I want to debunk right now is that templating engines
> "cost" alot in setup and environment time.  The truth is that once the
> system is set up, it is rarely altered until there is a need.  Common needs
> are additional output types (like adding PDF support).  But then, the
> environment is still stable--you are just adding another transformation
> type.  If the team decides to change the look of the docs, that can be
> done by changing the template.  I can turn a plain HTML page into a
> template
> in a couple of hours.  I can turn a plain HTML page into the content
> specific markup in about 10-15 minutes.
> 
> The Markup
> ----------
> The point of content specific markup is to simplify the documentation
> writing process.  You can use DocBook (used by a portion of the Avalon
> site--we are still converting), the standard Stylebook markup (used by
> almost all the stylebook based sites), or a hybrid.  For personal sites,
> I have opted for a hybrid mainly because it is relatively easy to use.
> 
> DocBook allows you to have alot more meta-data embedded--which if you
> need to support searching on your site is necessary.  Stylebook is much
> simpler, but could be made a little better.  An example Stylebook doc
> is listed below:
> 
> <document>
>   <header>
>     <title>Hello World</title>
>     <authors>
>       <person id="BL" name="Berin Loritsch" email="bloritsch@apache.org"/>
>     </authors>
>   </header>
>   <body>
>     <s1 title="Hello World!">
>       <p>
>         This is a simple paragraph.  Much of the markup is similar to the
>         XHTML equivalent.  <em>Especially</em>, when we are adding
>         <em>emphasis</em> or saying something <strong>strongly</strong>.
>       </p>
>       <p>
>         The <link href="#foo">links</link> are a bit more
>         rich.  The above example was a standard link that is equivalent
>         to a simple &gt;a/&lt; tag.  Sometimes you want to
>         <fork href="http://xml.apache.org">fork a new page</fork> so that
>         a new browser window is opened.  <anchor name="foo">And
> sometimes</anchor>
>         you just want to mark a position in the page.
>       </p>
>       <s2 title="Another level">
>         <p>
>           The sections can be nested so that you can have your standard
>           subheadings.
>         </p>
>         <ul>
>           <li>Most documents have subheadings</li>
>           <li>Most documents rarely go below four levels</li>
>         </ul>
>       </s2>
>     </s1>
>   </body>
> </document>
> 
> This document structure is very simple, and leverages simple XHTML tags for
> most constructs.  The only thing I don't like about it is that the titles
> are attributes in the sections, but a full level element in the header.  My
> hybrid approach takes everything else from Stylebook, but replaces the
> section
> markup with DocBook's approach:
> 
> <section>
>   <title>Hello World!</title>
>   <section>
>     <title>Another level</title>
>   </section>
> </section>
> 
> Also, by not specifically mentioning the nesting level, we can simply
> rearrange
> a document and promote sections simply by moving the whole section tag to a
> new place.  I have also extended the StyleBook to include form elements,
> but I
> don't think that is necessary right now...

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