Hi Foppers

The workshop is over. I'm writing this while sitting in my train back
home. It was very intensive and interesting. I've had the pleasure to
meet Luca for the first time face-to-face. Chris was able to come, too.
It was good to see him, too, again after 18 months.

I think there were about 35 people at the workshop, a mixture of people
from the working group, FO vendors ("no, Sharon: Implementors!" ;-), and
FO users. Many of the FO users were technical writers or people from
publishing houses mostly interested in complex book-style documents. The
FO implementors also represented the area of personalized documents. A
strong delegation from Japan and other Asian countries was there to
throw their weight in to make XSL-FO better for Asian languages. We've
seen that it is a very complex area.

We've spent most of the day going through the original XSL-FO
requirements document [1] and checking where we have additional
requirements. We could have spent at least 3 days on that part. There
are so many needs and wishes. As an implementor you get a headache,
especially when you start thinking about the complexity and the amount
of work involved. :-) I've been able to bring in some (obviously not all)
of the points people sent me via the mailing list. The minutes of the
workshop should be available in a few days where you can see what has
been discussed. We've had a raise of hands for many points to gauge how
important each one is.

The working group is extremely open to any input the community has. So
if anyone has important needs that may not have been addressed it is a
good time to communicate them to the working group. What actually will
be included in 2.0 is not decided. Right now the focus is on getting XSL
1.1. out of the door and gathering requirements for the next big step.
How this step will look like is largely up to the community, too. I
think there's a big opportunity now to jump in and help. How exactly
this is going to take place is not 100% clear. One idea was to use [2]
for that. They may also make a Wiki available to gather discussion
results.

My own impression was that XSL-FO is getting into a critical stage. With
so many potential new features (or let's say requirements and wishes),
the spec will grow considerably. I guess we will see a stronger
diversification of the FO implementations. They will choose certain
focus points. For example, it may very well be that some new features
will be quite CPU-intensive and not really useful for business-style
documents. With the latter, performance is everything. For other
documents, quality and layout features are much more important. This
could affect FOP more and more over time. If additional features start
to slow down FOP, we might have to think about tweaking FOP for
different document types. This could even go as far as to revive
Victor's idea of having different layout engines. That's difficult to
judge right now, though. We'll have to see what happens.

So, it was definitely worthwhile to take the trip to the beautiful town
of Heidelberg (although I haven't had time to see much of it). I would
like to thank the W3C and the members of the FO working group for the
invitation to and the organisation of the workshop.

I've also taken the opportunity to remind Chris and Luca about the
ApacheCon EU next April in Amsterdam. I expect to see at least of couple
of Foppers there. Keep in mind that if you do a presentation you get to
travel there for free (if you're not coming from behind the moon) and
get free admitance to the conference as well as two hotel nights. I'll
gladly pass on the opportunity for holding a session or tutorial to
someone else if that means that we have more FOP people there. As
Patrick has reported, it could be interesting to speak about DocBook and
stuff like that.

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/WD-XSLReq
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-xsl-fo/

Jeremias Maerki

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