I am now working on reporting tool which outputs reports into XSL FO,
so I have some experinece with tools described here. Althoug we are
using only quite simple formatting I would like to say something to
this topic as well.

On 31 Jul 2001, at 9:24 Elliotte Rusty Harold wrote about XSL-FO Engine comparisons :

> FOP was the first XSL-FO engine and is certainly the most popular. It's
> open source and far easier to install than PassiveTeX, the other open
> source alternative. However, of the ones I was able to actually test it
> produced by far the worst output. It had the most annoying formatting
> troubles. For example, it ate all the blank lines in my source code

I have to agree that FOP is worst I have used, but is improving
rapidly. In version 0.17, which was recent in the time I started to
follow developement it was practicaly unusable due to lack of
international support. Now I am quite satisfied, in basics FOP
fullfills our needs although some workarounds are still needed.

> examples and put extra indentation at the front of the first line of
> each example. I've noticed that probably more than half of the bug
> reports on the Docbook-APPS mailing list about the Docbook XSL-FO
> stylesheets can actually be attributed to bugs in FOP. FOP is improving
> rapidly -- one major bug I noted in footnote handling was fixed in the
> last couple of weeks while I was performing my tests -- but it's clearly
> not even an alpha quality release yet. A lot of work needs to be done
> before FOP can be recommended for more than experimentation.
> I was unable to get XEP to run. It was totally non-functional, and did
> not produce any output. I know some other people have gotten it to run
> -- the PDF version of the XSL specification was produced with XEP.
> However, it simply did not work for me at all. However good the XEP
> engine may be at converting XSL-FO documents to PDF, its horrible user
> interface and incomprehensible installation procedure eliminated it from
> my consideration.

I am using evaluation version of XEP with success. It is far better
than FOP. It has strange behavior on repeating table headers and it
doesn't support collapsing border model on tables. Instalation i quite
easy, version 2.50 has even installer which configures BAT file for
you. There is one issue - JAXP MUST NOT be installed as JAVA extension -
 In that case XEP fails with Class not found exception.

> PassiveTeX

As I had some experience with TeX that suggested that TeX is I
nightmare I even didn't try It. :-))

> Antenna House XSL Formatter
> The Antenna House XSL Formatter produced very attractive output, on a
> par with that generated by PassiveTeX and much better than FOP's. I
> noticed no major flaws or cosmetic bugs. Antenna House also claims
> they're the only formatter able to handle mixed writing-modes such as
> "tb-rl" for Chinese/Japanese/Korean, though I didn't test that.

I have to agree that Antenna is best I have seen

> Most importantly, Antenna House had by far the easiest installation and
> the nicest user interface of all the formatters tested. More work is
> still needed, but at least I could conceive of giving this formatter to
> a non-programmer end-user. The others all have effectively non-existent
> user interfaces, and horrible installation procedures. The Antenna house

I think that lack of user interface is not bug but feature, FOP and XEP
are renderers intended for usage in application servers and servlets.
Software that will provide environment for creating and rendering FO
documnets via services like FOP and XEP must be created. Problems with
instalation and similar things are common feature of really portable
and OS independent Java software.

> formatter was the only one of the four that took me less than an hour
> from download to first use.
> The downside to this otherwise excellent engine is that it's Windows
> only and based on Windows graphics primitives rather than PostScript or
> PDF. It displays on the screen very nicely, and prints nicely too.
> However, it does not produce a PDF document that I can send to my editor
> or a typesetter.
> Bottom line: none of the formatters are yet suitable for producing a
> finished product. Ňone of them can replace TeX or QuarkXPress. You might

I think there is other reason for formatters beeing not production redy
as well. This reason is that XSL FO is only in CR state of its first
version. I think 1.1 or 2.0 XSL FO Recomendation will be far better.

> be able to publish a simple book with these, but you'd have to design
> your book and style sheet so that you avoided the bugs and unimplemented
> features of the processor. Antenna House probably produces the most
> polished output, and I'd use it if all I wanted to do was print out a
> document from my laser printer. However, since I need PDF files I can
> send to my editors and download to a typesetter, my choice for the time
> being is PassiveTeX. --


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