SPUG: Minimal Perl web site & notification requests

Bill Campbell bill at celestial.com
Sun Jun 12 11:35:11 PDT 2005

On Sun, Jun 12, 2005, Tim Maher wrote:
>On Sat, Jun 11, 2005 at 07:21:06PM -0700, Mike McLaughlin wrote:
>> Imagine how much cheaper and quicker it would be if they didn't use
>> MS-word. 
>And used what other "standard format" instead?  Like it or not,
>standards are important, and MS-Word is the current standard for the
>publishing industry.

That doesn't say much for the publishing industry as MS-Word isn't
particularly suited for production of large documents in that it doesn't
have the document wide macro and formatting capabilities of other
publishing software (e.g. TeX, groff, Docbook XML/SGML).  I imagine that
Knuth, author of TeX, would have many interesting things to say about MS-
Word.  I do most of my documentation, writing for groff -mm macros, with a
perl translator that converts this to Docbook XML (largely because I
haven't found an editor for XML that I'm willing to use -- I don't do
Emacs).  I think there are technical publishers who have standardized on
Docbook XML.

I had a long conversation with Phil Hughes, owner of SSC, and publisher of
Linux Journal, talking about the efficiency of MS-Word.  A mutual friend,
who was one of the original board members of the Seattle Unix Group and an
employee in the early days of SSC, was called in by her boss at Microsoft
and asked if she could explain why she was five or six times more
productive than anybody else in his department.  Her answer was that she
wrote everything using ``vi'', and converted the final product into Word.

Perhaps when MS-Word stores all its documents in XML, it will be reasonably
easy to convert from open standard documents to Word.  There certainly is
growing pressure towards open data format standards, even from government
agencies that don't want to get locked into proprietary systems.

>> I am announcing now that I refuse to deal with a publisher who
>> not only uses MS-word but then complains that it takes too long and has to
>> charge extra.
>The publisher is /not/ charging the readers extra because the
>author has to submit the manuscript in MS-Word format.
>The book's price is based on the estimated final page count,
>which is shrinking by 10-25% per chapter as I convert my Courier-
>font troff/tbl-based tables into MS-Word proportional-font
>tables. So if anything, the conversion to MS-Word is /diminishing/ the
>price of the book, compared to the format I've been using.
>My gripe is just that it's taking a lot of time to do the
>conversion, largely because the MS-Word "macro" facility is so
>lame that I can't automate very many of the necessary markup

The publisher isn't paying you for this extra work.  It would be one thing
if there were large profits for authors in writing technical books, but
there's not enough to get me to deal with the frustration of dealing with
Microsoft software.

INTERNET:   bill at Celestial.COM  Bill Campbell; Celestial Software LLC
UUCP:               camco!bill  PO Box 820; 6641 E. Mercer Way
FAX:            (206) 232-9186  Mercer Island, WA 98040-0820; (206) 236-1676
URL: http://www.celestial.com/

``It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of
their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or
so incoherent that they cannot be understood.''
    -James Madison, Federalist Paper #62

More information about the spug-list mailing list