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From (Ralf S. Engelschall)
Subject [STATUS] ADP (Fri 8-Aug-1997 11:06 MET DST)
Date Fri, 08 Aug 1997 09:06:39 GMT

STATUS of the Apache Documentation Project (ADP)

The current ADP Team:
(Just jump up and say you want to contribute!)

    Ralf S. Engelschall <> (coordinator)
    Stanley Gambarin    <>
    Christopher Huber   <>
    Brian Slesinsky     <>

Goal of the project:
(Feel free to fix me)

  1. Write an Apache Handbook which includes a reference of all config
     directives and modules in addition to a complete reference of the general
     functionality of Apache and the developer guidelines.
         - apache/htdocs/*  =
         - apache-site/*    =
         - apache-devsite/* =
     Target formats:
         - essential: HTML (portable online-browsing)
         - essential: Postscript (printing to paper)
         - nice: Windows Help File Format (online-browsing on Windows)
         - optional: plain ASCII (for Vi-readers ;_) 
         - optional: PDF (for crunched printing source with hyperlinks).
     Target readers:
         - webmasters who have to install/configure Apache
         - Apache developers
  2. Write an Apache User Manual which is a tutorial-like description of
     Apache, i.e. it summarizes typical configuration tasks and practical
     solutions for the avarage user.
         - apache/htdocs/*  =
         - apache-site/*    =
         - ApacheWeek       =
         - Stronghold docs  =
     Target formats:
         - essential: HTML (portable online-browsing)
         - essential: Windows Help File Format (online-browsing on Windows)
         - essential: Postscript (printing to paper)
         - optional: plain ASCII (for Vi-readers ;_) 
         - optional: PDF (for crunched printing source with hyperlinks).
     Target readers:
         - advanced users who work under Apache
         - avarage webmasters who have to configure Apache

  2. Write an Apache FAQ which includes questions & answers of any
     topics interested to the impatient reader.
         - apache/htdocs/manual/misc/FAQ = 
         - ApacheWeek tutorials =
     Target formats:
         - esstential: news.answers-ready message-digest TXT format (for USENET!!)
         - esstential: HTML (portable online-browsing)
         - nice: Windows Help File Format (online-browsing on Windows)
         - nice: Postscript (printing to paper)
         - optional: plain ASCII (for Vi-readers ;_) 
         - optional: PDF (for crunched printing source with hyperlinks).

Current state:

I've started to write an initial skeleton for the handbook by the use of
SGML-Tools. This was done to be sure SGML-Tools really is an acceptable
approach.  But we are not sure, because SDF is also an alternative.  Current
test handbook can be found on

Current Points of Discussion:
(Feel free to add your votes and ideas!)

    o Decision on the used markup tool:

      Status: SGMLTools with LinuxDOC-DTD worked
              fine for the initial handbook skeleton
              and is also used for Linux HOWTOs and
              FreeBSD Handbook.
              But SDF is an alternative!

          - linuxdoc-sgml 1.5
            => The predecessor of SGMLTools
            Votes: RSE -1 (because obsolete)

          - FreeBSD's sgmlfmt
            => Based on linuxdoc-sgml 1.4/1.5 with
            Votes: RSE -1 (because SGMLTools is still better)

          - SGMLTools 0.99.14
            => Provides an SGML-based approach and can
               directly generate HTML, TXT and TeX (->Postscript).
               Easy syntax because very related to HTML which
               every contributor already knows.
            Votes: RSE +1 (because currently best tool for SGML approach)
                   Stanley Gambarin +1 (if and only if .hlp can be 
                                        created, too with this approach)

          - Perl's Plain Old Document (POD) Format
            Votes: RSE -0 (because not powerful enough: images, etc.)

          - Simple Document Format (SDF)
            => Successor of POD. Leads to very compact source
               (especially for lists) in contrast to the SGML approaches.
               Works really nice and can be enhanced to fit out needs.
               Very easy syntax (similar to POD), but not related
               to HTML.
            Votes: RSE +1 iff(!) the author Ian Clatworthy
                          enhances SDF in the following ways:
                          1. all of our needed features possible 
                             with all of our needed output formats
                          2. output format Postscript directly
                             creatable via TeX as the postprocessor
                             instead of FrameMaker or WinWord.
                          Ian says he tries to do this enhancements
                          until the end of the next week. We should
                          give him a chance!
                   Stanley Gambarin +1 (if there is no way to
                                        generate .hlp with SGMLTools)

          - eXtensible Markup Language (XML)
            (one starting point:
            => Alternative to SGML, because some kind of
               subset of SGML. Easier then SGML. But 
               1. When using a easy DTD, SGML is easy too.
               2. There are currently not good enough tools for XML.
                  There are only some precessors/parsers but no
                  really powerful backends.
               3. Currently not a final standard, while SGML is.
            Votes: RSE -0 because needs a few years more to be acceptable

          - ...???ANY MORE???...

    o Decision how to work on ADP as a group

      Status: A CVS area apache-docs can be easily created,
              so every contributor can at least grab the stuff via
              Anonymous-CVS (when done in the near future) to grab the latest
              release. Changes are sent to (similar to
              patches to and are committed by the
            - CVS area apache-docs
              => Good approach because we already maintain
                 our stuff in CVS and CVS provides good change histories,
              Votes: RSE +1

            - ...???ANY MORE??... 
    o Decision about the Table Of Contents

      Status: As a start we should take Stanley Gambarin's toc idea and
              enhance/modify it by doing votes and suggestions.  The list was
              posted by him to new-httpd and will be reposted by me when we
              have votes for the above to points.

      Sources we should consider:
            - apache-site CVS area =
            - apache-devsite CVS area =
            - ApacheWeek tutorials:
            - Stronghold docs:

    o Decision about how to split up the work in the team

      !! This can be started when we have discussed the Table
         Of Contents and are sure we have one to start with !!

Some ideas and wishes:

Dean Gaudet: 
    One big feature I want are those handy bars down the left side of the page
    beside lines which have been modified since the last revision.  This would
    be extremely nice for users upgrading between versions of the software.
    Doing this in html is probably very difficult ... I know you can whack
    together something that would look this way as *output*, but it's probably
    not easy to manipulate.

Ralf S. Engelschall:
    I really want the output formats look as similar as it is possible, i.e.
    the HTML online version should look as close to the Postscript version as
    it is possible. 

    The FAQ needs to be news.answers-ready.

                                       Ralf S. Engelschall

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