tbook logo tbook and DocBook

(The following represents my evaluation.  Although it contains many facts, you may weigh up them differently.)

Why not DocBook?

Some people have asked why I created a new XML format and didn't choose DocBook as the basis for my transformations.

Well, first of all:  I don't know any free DocBook tool that produces output that is decent enough for me.  Typically the printed output is not very beautiful and many things simply don't work (e.g. formulae).  So I felt forced to create transformations by myself anyway.

Nevertheless I could have chosen DocBook as the starting point.  I didn't do this because:


I'd lose credibility if I didn't mention the other side.  If your texts don't have a very complex structure (e.g. no formulae, no bibliography, no index) the differences melt down to the non-existence of really nice free DocBook conversion tools.  If, additionally, the output quality is not too important, or you are prepared to write your own conversion tools (as some people do), DocBook may well be sufficient for you.

Every tool has its purpose.  DocBook's purpose is technical documentation.  For example, tbook's manual pages are written in DocBook.  I'd have even written tbook's main documentation in DocBook, too, but the Texinfo system turned out to be even better suited for this task.

To sum it up:  DocBook for technical documentation and special tasks like manual pages, and tbook for scientific texts.  For general texts you may use both, however tbook is simpler and – if you don't want to program yourself – produces nicer output.


Torsten Bronger, mailto:bronger@physik.rwth-aachen.de.  2003/06/23