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Re: Docmentation/FAQs

Hi Darald,

Let me see if I can clarify this for you.

On 9/21/06, Darald Bantel <..hidden..> wrote:

Can I start by saying that I have NOT used latex - so I may be seriously
out to lunch.

Is it not that when you are plotting out the format of you invoices,
statements etc that you need to accurately format what and where things
are on the page - yes? Is html capable of this level of accuracy without
any serious wierdness? I do not find that OO documents are that easy to
be this finickity in - like I am not sure that I can do a watermark in
OO - it IS possible to do this in latex! (I checked!)

In all fairness (I have a LOT of experience with LaTeX), people do
sometimes run into weirdness with LaTeX usually due to some braindead
installs that do things like set different paper size rules for PDF
and PS documents.  But in theory, I don't see why you couldn't do
everyhting you can do layout-wise in LaTeX with some SGML variant--
most of what people do with LaTeX is basically semantic markup.  Of
course LaTeX allows for a lot more, but that is beside the point.
Also the current LaTeX templates are buggy and, I think need some
serious structural improvements (not a templating problem so much as a
page definition one).  On top of this the templating system doesn't
play well with graphical LaTeX editors...

There are plenty of good reasons to use LaTeX for the templates,
especialy where formatting is incredibly sensitive (for example,
printing checks), but HTML templates are also supported for a reason
though not for printing checks for obvious reasons.  The more I look
into it, the less convinced I am that LaTeX is the wrong technology
for the templates.  The biggest problem is that the current templates,
like the rest of the software, suffer from an acute lack of planning
and an unwillingness to really leverage the technology.

There are two sides to the current issue:
1)  What do we use for large printed documents.  Personally, I think
that LaTeX is an extremely powerful aspect to this solution that ought
to be leveraged wherever appropriate.  But in the end, whether you
enclose your chapters with <CHAPTER> tags as in docbook or separate
them with \chapter{} macros as in LaTeX matters very little.  As long
as the content is well managed it isn't much of an issue.  (My own
suggestion is that the large documents be independantly maintained but
draw from community-maintained XHTML respositories.)

2)  Do we use an XML-based templating system (there are several
options for pipelines, but they eventually have to convert to
Postscript and/or PDF for the formatting reasons you mention) or do we
stick with the current system?  Or do we support both?  Obviously the
current system is in serious need of some changes, but do we fix them
in place or throw it out (causing users to have to redo their

My own view is that I don't see why we can't do both.  I expect to
keep a wait and see attitude towards a fundamentally different
approach to templating, and I think the current system can be
drastically improved to the point where most of the complaints go
away.  There are, however, a number of intreguing possibilities which
include JasperReports or some XML->ReportLab possibilities.  The
degree to which such a system will be actually an improvement,
however, will greatly depend on the details.  I think that there will
be a lot of work in this area.

In the end, my own hope is that LedgerSMB will become a piece of
infrastructure rather than a standalone app.  After all, that is what
ERP promises.  To do this, I think it is best if it can be as open of
a project as possible not only wrt community development but also in
interoperating with other programs.

Hope this helps,
Chris Travers