Hallo developers,

I think I should give my contribution in backing Keiron's statement. Please
note that this is not some kind of a stuck-up, disengaged spectator's point
of view. I think the FOP developers have done a great job, sacrificing time
and money to achieve what has been achieved, and - as a beneficiary of it -
I'd like to thank you for it cordially. I also would like to express
gratefulness towards those who helped my colleagues and me in our wading
through the difficulties we met on our way.

To help you to understand better who speaks: I am not a thorough-bred
programmer. As a consultant, I'm trying to analyze different customers's
needs, and as the mentor of my own company's programmers I develop ideas and
help my colleagues in persuing these objectives.

There are no programmers in our company capable of messing with the source
code of Cocoon, or FOP, or anything linked to it. Therefore, sometimes FOP
is to us like a black box, which doesn't make things easier.

As a user, or "customer", however, I could express some clearcut opinions
which might be interesting feedback for FOP developers:

- Documentation. I know, there is no entitlement to documentation, or to
anything else, in an open-source project. Nevertheless, I found that (a) W3C
specs are great, but envisage no practical approach for those, like us, who
are not the ultimate specialists; (b) books seem to be scarce, contain
sometimes wrong or misleading information, are too superficial in their
examples, i.e. show what anyone would retrieve from somewhere in the
internet anyhow, and not always are systematic. It has cost us thousands and
thousands of Euros to get hold of simple, necessary-to-operate information.
Something like "SelfHTML", a site very popular among German HTML designers,
would be needed.
- Sometimes, I have the impression that FOP is a bit too web-oriented. I
don't know whether it's true, but both my colleagues and I, at a certain
point, got the impression that, when the HTML output side was finished,
somebody said: "And what are we going to do next?", with someone else
answering: "Let's do PDF". Of course, PDF is, first of all, a "portable"
data format, i.e. it's web-oriented. But, more and more, it is used for
typographical purposes. However, it is not possible to get anywhere near to
printshop quality unless EPS and TIFF files of a certain resolution rate can
be used. However, using twenty TIFFs of 1MB each puts FOP k.o. in a few
milliseconds. due to my own experience, FOP seems designed to be uses with
JPG/GIF pictures at 72dpi which look fine through the internet and on an
ordinary office printer. Or take hyphenation: given the number of languages
involved, certainly not an easy task. On the other hand, if hyphenation does
not work properly - and we havent't got it to work properly with the W3C
spec's language and country attributes for German and Germany - the output
scores a further little minus
), and these minus points accumulate.

Please let me underline at this point that FOP is held by us a valuable and
very useful invention. We'll continue to utilize it, and we'll propagate the
use of it. Nevertheless, it would be encouraging to see the effort, which is
necessary to get it on its way, being reduced.
You might reply: "So, why don't you get involved and help making it better?"
Rightly so. The answer is: I can't, I haven't got the expertise. What I can
do, I've done - to utter my point of view with some detail.



-----Original Message-----
From: Keiron Liddle [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]]
Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2001 3:55 PM
Subject: Re: need help


While that is true there are certain things you need to realise.
- there are serious layout issues that need to be addressed
- performance and memory is very much tied up to how the whole system
works, this makes it difficult to fix
- getting FOP to a stage where there is a clear development direction is
- none of this will happen by itself

It appears that more effort needs to be put towards communicating the
issues involved and the way in which FOP can be improved.

Yes it does need to be much better.

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