Cubicle hell

So I need to write a report.

I can’t write it in HTML because it will print badly from a browser. And editing HTML can be a pain. There is princexml but that costs a couple of hundred dollars.

I don’t want to edit in ODF because then I would have to use a hunk-of-crap WYSIWYG editor like Openoffice. Hell no. Also I have no experience of how ODF maps to the Web. Pretty badly I’ll assume.

There is stuff like textile, markdown and reStructuredText, but what’s the point? They only seem to generate good HTML. So we are still left with the printing beautifully to A4 problem.

Ok there is good old “tex”. But really I don’t want to go back there! Do I really have to use latex? It’s just so heavy and you can’t publish to HTML easily. Argh!

Docbook. Hell no. It’s a dark art to control how the formats finally look. Trust me, I have experience.

I had this thought that there must be some good mediawiki/wikipedia article printer tool. Maybe I can write this in mediawiki with the help of mozex and vim. Oh no. The Debian package is still b0rked on 1.4. Argh…

I just wish there was a better mapping between the web and office formats like odf.
Why does HTML not work for you? If you have concerns about pagination, use CSS rules to control it. Other than pagination, I can’t think of any particular reason HTML looks bad printed.
Comment by Anonymous
Do you have any examples?
Comment by hendry

I think ODF is probably still your best bet.

I’ve just translated ~400 pages of almost-HTML (mostly XHTML, but with some custom tags for good reasons) into ODF using a simple XSL I wrote myself. From there, I then have macros to convert it into PDF and other formats.

The really nice thing about ODF is that you can create a template in and setup your styles and page layouts, and then drop in some new content of your own. The separation between presentation and content is pretty good in ODF, and means you can have a really nice simple transform for the content, but still get a good-looking document.

On the subject of reST, I thought there was a reST->TeX or something system you could use, but I might have imagined it.

I’m giving a talk on ODF at West Yorkshire LUG next month, and these issues are going to be on the agenda – I’m going to be publishing a ‘cookbook’ of ODF recipes, some of which might interest you if the above sounds along the lines of what you want.

Comment by Alex

LaTeX is a great choice, and if you want you’ll learn the basics in a couple days.
Plus, the automatic layout thing is just that great.

Comment by Marco

Hi Kai,
why not use an output format like PDF. Most tools can output to PDF and it print wysiwyg?

Comment by Kevin Mark

Well, if you like LaTeX output I believe that reStructuredText is a good format, the rst2latex
script + pdflatex has worked great for me for a long time.

In fact we are now using it in the office with a small sed script to change the latex document
type and the pdf output looks great and has our own look’n’feel.

I suggested this format as an intermediate step before moving documents to other editors like writer (importing the html output), but it is quite probable that we adopt it as
an alternate way of writting documents as all the people working with it is quite happy with
the results.

The only remaining thing to do for us is remove the sed script (it was a quick hack to reuse a previously defined document type) and move our customizations to a stylesheet for the rst2newlatex output format, as it seems a better and safer way of customize the latex output format.

Comment by Sergio Talens-Oliag
Incidentally I am really enjoying restructured text from the python docutils package.
Comment by hendry
I’ve recently started to use Prince. So now I write in HTML and convert to PDF when I have to. Great results.
Comment by hendry