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Re: Document authoring systems in Emacspeak

Victor Tsaran (V) writes:

    V> One thing though that no one seems to mention about Emacs is
     that editing of text files is not very speech-friendly. What I
     mean by that is the fact that languages such as TEX or Latex
     involve a lot of tags to be learned and put in, which
     disconcentrates the attention of the person working with a
     speech synthesizer. 

Gary replies:

I loved LaTeX.  I fought all through the MsWord years to keep my right
to use LaTeX.  Today, I only use LaTeX when there is no other choice.

Today, I use DocBook.

DocBook solves your problem.  PSGML-mode will hide all tags, or hide
some depth of indentation.  It may take some work to make it easy for
you, but it is there.

I side with the others: If you are writing a markup language, you need
to know where the markup occurs, and if you think you can survive in
WordPerfect without every saying "Show the codes", then I expect your
documents are pretty messy, or extremely simple.

If you 'colourize' your text, PSGML-mode will show the tags in different
colours so that will translate into different audio voice qualities.

With DocBook, you can write one document and from that produce HTML,
postscript, PDF, probably even braille.  The multi-language support
for DocBook is pretty primative, but hey, we have to start somewhere.

Vic (V) adds:

    V> Garry, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Is there a way
     to write TEX-orinted text, I mean with fonts, colors and other
     attributes, without having to hear the tags themselves?

Gary replies:

I agree with the advice you got before. I don't think you _want_ to do
this, but for a different reason.

DocBook has no concept of fonts, colours or any other visual
attributes. That stuff does not belong in what we write. That is stuff
for professional layout artists and typesetters.  We should not
pretend to be layout artists --- MsWord has thrown typesetting science
back over 5 hundred years --- We just want to write concepts, ideas,
formulas and gossip.  What colour is gossip?  What font is a
trademark?  How you you pronounce an italic phrase?  How do you
pronounce helvetica vs roman text?  These things are nonsensical.

We need to seperate content from layout.  Form is not function.

LaTeX _could_ be used to seperate layout from content, but it was
pretty bad at this.  At some point, you had to know the width of a
font.  In DocBook, the division is complete.  You write your text with
markup that identifies the _meaning_ of your text, and you leave the
visual aspects of the markup to someone else ... or to a robot.

For example, I can look at my book with all the codes, or zoom in on a
single section-level or even narrow the text down to just the current
section, and I can show the codes or hide them (I imagine you would
only hide them so you can have Emacspeak read the page back to you to
let you check the flow of langauge).  Just as with MsWord or with
WordPerfect, you add markup tags using hotkeys, only in Emacspeak with
PSGML-mode ..

     1) You cannot add markup where it violates the proper structure
        of a document; if a section requires a title, the title
        element is added and no other element will be permitted. 

     2) If you cannot remember all 2000 element tags, all their
        attributes and all the special glyphs and other entities,
        Emacs of course provides command completion.

I won't sugar coat this: DocBook is a major learning cliff, a land of
toil and tears, but here again, the view is worth the climb. When
combined with some suitable templates for Emacs template.el (see
http://www.fmi.uni-passau.de/~wedler/template/), I think this would be
the best way to write on an audio-desktop.

I have a webpage on SGML and XML at http://www.teledyn.com/help/XML

This page contains links to DocBook websites, books, online tutorials
and software.  If anyone is interested, I also have a makefile and a
template which could be adapted for blinux.

You must realize that while DocBook has been the standard in large
industries like Sun Microsystems for many years (ok, about 4 years) it
is only just now becoming available for the unwashed masses like you
and I. There is a lot of stuff missing and virtually no new user
guidance other than newsgroups and mailing lists.  This is changing.
I don't think it is nearly as hard to learn as LaTeX ... especially if
you don't have the Leslie Lamport book, but right now it is all
jumbled with bits scattered all over the web.

Gary Lawrence Murphy <garym@canada.com>  TeleDynamics Communications Inc
Business Innovations Through Open Source Systems: http://www.teledyn.com
Linux/GNU Education Group: http://www.egroups.com/group/linux-education/
"Computers are useless.  They can only give you answers."(Pablo Picasso)

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