DocBook V4.5

Volume 9, Issue 92; 04 Oct 2006; last modified 08 Oct 2010

It's official: DocBook V4.5 is an OASIS Standard.

If you think of standardization as the best that you know today, but which is to be improved tomorrow; you get somewhere.

Henry Ford

DocBook V4.5 has been winding its way slowly towards “OASIS Standard” status for more than a year: our first test release occurred in May, 2005.

There are only a few improvements in V4.5 as compared to V4.4, which was published in January, 2005. However, there are a great many improvements as compared to V4.1, the last OASIS Standard version of DocBook. DocBook V4.1 was published in December, 2003. The changes since V4.1 are summarized in V4.2, V4.3, and V4.4 as well as V4.5.

The significance of V4.5 doesn't stem from comparison with V4.4 (or even V4.0, for that matter), rather it stems from comparison with V5.0: DocBook V4.5 is very likely to be the last release in the V4.x series.

Changing the major version number in DocBook has often marked the end of one era and the beginning of another:

  • V3.0 marked the end of a fairly monolithic structure and the beginning of an intensely parameterized, highly customizable DTD.

  • V4.0 marked, if not the end of SGML, the introduction of XML DTD as an official, normative format.

  • V5.0 marks the end of the DTD era and the beginning of the RELAX NG era.

Looking farther forward, it seems likely that the V6.0 transition will be a less dramatic event. Recall that our change policy states that backwards incompatible changes can only be made in major versions and I expect we'll get to some backwards incompatible change before there's another revolution. But I've been wrong before.

Congratulations to the DocBook Technical Committee and the whole DocBook community on achieving OASIS Standard status for DocBook V4.5, a milestone event in DocBook development.