I am the Technical Director for Connexions, an open source project at Rice University, located at http://cnx.org. We put free textbooks on the web and are working on a project to make our free textbooks look like commercial textbooks. Our data is stored as XML which we are converting to Docbook, then XSL-FO, then to PDF using FOP. We have run into a problem that FOP does not handle correctly and we are hoping to hire a FOP expert to code a solution for us. We will make the solution open source either as part of FOP or as part of our application.

The problem is in making a 2 column textbook with occasional images, tables or other features that span the 2 columns. The placement of the items that span 2 columns cannot be controlled which results in images that get cropped at the bottom of pages or in large areas of whitespace at the bottom of the page. The flow of the text around images is also a problem. Here is a description from our developer.

We would like to publish textbooks (from Docbook) in a 2-column format except for explicitly annotated ones (@span="all"). Unfortunately, if one occurs in the middle of the page the flow of text is non-intuitive.


Existing FOP:
+------------------------+
| .........    ......... |
| ...[1]...    ...[2]... |
| .........    ......... |
|  +------------------+  |
|  |     (figure)     |  |
|  +------------------+  |
| .........    ......... |
| ...[3]...    ...[4]... |
| .........    ......... |
+------------------------+

Instead of changing the implementation (swapping [2] and [3]) we thought it might be easier to just have the blocks "snap" to the top or bottom of the page they occur in much like footnotes (thus avoiding the flow problem).

If you are available for hire on a short term contract basis to help us solve this problem, I would be interested in talking with you. We are hoping to have this coded as soon as possible.

Thanks,
Ed Woodward
Technical Director - Connexions



Reply via email to