TeXML is not at XML Prague 2010

To my great surprise, TeXML presentation was not accepted for XML Prague 2010. It’s so unexpected, that I’m even not upset, only puzzled. TeXML is one of a few projects which are somehow revolutionary. Seems it’s my fault I didn’t make it clear. The abstract, the reviews and conclusions follow.

Abstract

TeXML: XML to PDF through LaTeX

TeXML is an approach to XML to PDF conversion, an alternative to the XSLT/FO way. The characteristic features are:

* LaTeX is used as a typesetting engine.
* XML logical markup is converted to LaTeX logical markup.
* The low-level formatting details are hidden in LaTeX style files, not in conversion scripts.
* XML to LaTeX conversion scripts are straightforward thanks to an intermediate XML-based language.
* Generated LaTeX code is human-friendly and ready for modification.

To be a real alternative to the established standard, TeXML needs unique competitive advantages. The main are:

* Poor quality auto-layout artifacts in generated PDFs can be fixed by editing LaTeX code.
* Separation of work is encouraged: programmers do programming, and typesetting specialists do layout definition.
* The process is based on open-source tools.

The paper is written from the XML perspective. Only basic knowledge of LaTeX is assumed. TeXML is compared with alternative TeX-based XML-to-PDF projects. Practical experience of using TeXML in production is given. Problems and listed together with the solutions. An appendix provides an example of a simple publishing project, with step-by-step instructions how to convert XML to PDF using TeXML approach.

Reviews

Neutral

I think that TeXML is not new project and given it’s non-mainstream technology I don’t think that XML Prague is right venue for having presentation about it.

Reject

There’s nothing new in this paper that hasn’t been said in the last 10 years. Furthermore there is no paper attached.

Strong Reject

lacks enough detail to make a positive decision

Reject

Not matching this year’s topics.

Reject

The paper presents a tool for generating PDF output from XML via an XML representation of LaTeX called TeXML, which seems to be a useful light-weight approach for producing high-quality output in the kinds of applications where TeX excels. This topic, however, is a bit distant from the conference focus for this year.

Conclusion

My habit of sending an abstract only and writing the paper later has failed here: 2 rejects of 5 reviews. As of not matching this year’s topics, usually it doesn’t matter.

For me, it seems the failure is due to a bit of unluck. Being of non-mainstream (thanks to the first reviewer for pointing it to me), I get reviewers who a bit distant from publishing XML on paper and don’t see any use for TeXML. Contrary, the real users of TeXML are excited with it, and I believe the users more than reviewers.

TODO:

Re-write the abstract and paper so that even reviewers not in topic understand that something important happens.

Finally release the working DocBook stylesheets to be less non-mainstream.

Rework the site, add more new documentation.

3 Responses to “TeXML is not at XML Prague 2010”

  1. JP Says:

    converting xml to tex has been done for ages!
    Just look at tei-c.

    for the top conferences, 25% acceptance rates and bewlow are normal. so no worry… :-)

  2. olpa Says:

    I’d say “promised for ages”, not “has been done”. Existing approaches work only in a controlled environment, when the source documents do not contain images and tables. (Well, it’s an exaggeration, but not big.)

  3. Jim Fuller Says:

    I would say keep on trying … remember that XML Prague is a single track conference and we have an obligation (and a real challenge) to try and have a set of talks that are coherent when contrasted against each other.

    As everyone goes to the same talk, its important that we have talks which are singularly interesting across a broad appeal … as you will have a % of people in each talk who may not normally attend such a talk. You need to add some ‘surprise’ and new angle (without superfluous invention) … I would say there are a number of older hands familiar with the tech your paper described, whats the magic trick is to create a paper which inspires them as well as younger people who may have not been exposed.

    I will make a special point to look for your submission next year and looking forward to it!

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