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RE: [xsl] Word -> XSL


Subject: RE: [xsl] Word -> XSL
From: Emmanuel Bégué <eb@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 5 Jan 2010 09:31:16 +0100

Hello,

This is what I understand about what you want to do:

- you receive "templates" from restaurants that designed them
  themselves using either MS-Word or MS-Excel (one restaurant
  sends one template that's specific to its needs and that
  will ever only be used by this one restaurant)

- you want to transform the received files into actual
  templates (meaning a general layout and variables), either
  by using directly Office "Open" XML formats ("Option 1") or
  transforming the templates into FO files ("Option 2")

- once this is done you'll be able to generate "on the fly"
  wine lists using a database of wines and the specific template
  of each restaurant.

You would also like to do this using XML / XSLT.

If the above is correct:

- I would not attempt Option 2 in any case; making an FO
  template from a Word file that may include pics, specific
  and maybe non-standard layout made from amateur designers
  (ie, restaurant owners) is going to be very hard if not
  impossible; it may be justified if there were some economies
  of scale to be made (one template for many restaurants),
  but not here (unless there is some kind of automatic
  Word-to-FO tool that I'm unaware of?)

- Option 1 does not sound great either: XSLT is not a search
  and replace utility (it transforms one tree into another
  tree), and an Office XML file is composed of many files
  in a zip package, that are not very easy to manipulate

- What I would try would be to use RTF; RTF files are simple
  text files that can be manipulated with any ordinary
  search and replace utility:

  - save the templates received from restaurants into RTF
    files, with specific variable names where needed
    (Excel layouts can be first transformed to Word tables
     before being saved to RTF)

  - when generating a new wine list, search
    and replace variable names with new values

Another approach many be to provide restaurants with a
general (and rather strict) layout that they may customize
(responsibly); if it is possible to impose this, Option 2
may make sense, because you'd have to develop the FO just
once; but if you need to give maximum freedom to
restaurants, I suggest you try the RTF solution.

Hope this helps.
Regards,
EB


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Schultz, Len [mailto:len@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
> Sent: Monday, January 04, 2010 7:30 PM
> To: xsl-list@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: [xsl] Word -> XSL
>
>
> Hello,
>
> I am building a web application that will allow restaurants to
> easily create custom beverage (e.g. wine) menus utilizing a
> central database of beverage products.  Key to this is making it
> really easy to have each restaurant specify and implement their
> look and feel into their menus.  The effort needs to be extremely
> light weight: we'll have to do potentially 1000 different menu
> templates for 1000 different restaurants.  FYI, today 90% of
> menus are done in MS Word, another 9% done in MS Excel, and the
> remaining 1% is probably Adobe InDesign, Quark, and MS Publisher.
>
> I want to implement this using XML and XSLT.  The question I have
> for this group is the plusses and minuses of 2 different targets
> for the transformation.
>
> Option 1 is to transform to WordML and SpreadsheetML.  This has
> the benefits of 1) having the restaurant send us their design in
> Word/Excel, then all we have to do is create an XSLT to replace
> the data.  And 2) if there are changes or adjustments to make in
> the layout, the restaurant can then make those changes in
> Word/Excel, and we just create a new XLST.
>
> Option 2 is to transform to XSL (aka XSL-FO).  This has the
> benefits that 1) we can transform to PDF, which would cover the
> 1% that don't have Word/Excel.  And 2) we can keep people in our
> system to make.  But I don't know how we can easily create the
> XSL from sample menus sent to us in Word.  I also don't know what
> kind of layout change process would work (our web application
> might need to be robust enough to allow users to fine-tune layout
> changes online)
>
> I'd like to tackle the first issue first.  Does anyone have
> insights into how XSL could be created from a sample Word
> document, and the effort involved in creating that XSL?
>
> --len


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