DocBook V5.1 Beta 2

Volume 13, Issue 24; 27 Jul 2010; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Announcing DocBook V5.1b2, the second beta release of (what will become) DocBook V5.1. Version 5.1 includes significant new features for topic-based authoring as well as a number of bug fixes.

Earlier this month, I very quietly released DocBook V5.1b1. No one's suggested that I got it totally wrong (and there's evidence that at least a few people noticed!), so today, I released DocBook V5.1b2 with its corresponding documentation.

The star feature of DocBook V5.1 is support for “topic-based” documentation. At a minimum, that means we'll be adding a new component-level element with the semantically neutral name “topic” and providing some mechanism for composing topics.

Deciding to use topic makes a statement about the kind of documentation that you're building. Although you can make a book of topics, you can't mix topics willy-nilly amongst the more traditional narrative elements.

Topics by themselves aren't especially useful, to reap the real benefits of the topic-based authoring paradigm, you must be able to reuse them, to compose them together into new modules or structures (be they books, help systems, web sites, or what-have-you).

For this purpose, DocBook V5.1 introduces the assembly. Assemblies are the mechanism by which authors can compose topics (or, in fact, other narrative elements) together. My XML Prague presentation, Automating Document Assembly in DocBook explored one toolchain for processing assemblies. I've only just now realized that I never published that anywhere else.

Tools support for topic-based authoring in DocBook is under active development, as is the schema itself. I'll be presenting DocBook V5.1 at XML 2010 in Philadelphia this October.

Questions, comments, etc., most welcome on the DocBook mailing list.

Changes in DocBook V5.1b2

Here's a quick summary of the changes in DocBook V5.1b2 as compared to the official DocBook V5.0 schema, in case you're interested in the gory details.

  • Fixed RFE 1679665 Add better support for modular documentation

  • Fixed RFE 1722935 Add a proofreader value to the class attribute for othercredit

  • Fixed RFE 1770787 Add givenname as an alternative for firstname

  • Fixed RFE 1899655 Allow more elements to be the root of a DocBook document

  • Fixed RFE 2100736 Allow constant in initializer

  • Fixed RFE 2791288 Added several additional elements, including quote, to the ubiquitous inlines

  • Fixed RFE 2820190 Add a topic element

  • Fixed RFE 2821653 Remove the constraint that indexterm elements must not appear in footnotes

  • Fixed RFE 2907124 Allow personal name components directly in bibliomset.

  • Fixed RFE 2907125 Allow all inlines in remark

  • Fixed RFE 2907131 Allow simplesect in colophon

  • Fixed RFE 2964576 Fix the bug that allowed table to appear inside entry