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[xsl] XSL:FO approach for facing-page translation

Subject: [xsl] XSL:FO approach for facing-page translation
From: Martin Holmes <mholmes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 07 Feb 2014 10:43:22 -0800

Hi all,

I have an interesting problem to solve with an edition of a source text which has an accompanying translation.

The text is in paragraphs, with each paragraph in the original matching one in the translation. In XHTML, I'm easily able to render the two texts in a borderless table, with a row for each paragraph, giving a nice readable parallel-text view.

I need to do something similar in PDF, using XSL:FO. The ideal would be to have the original text on the verso page, with the equivalent translation on the facing recto. But I can't figure out a practical approach to this. For one thing, I don't see how I can render individual pages from one text and then the other text in alternating fashion, and for another, I don't see any way to keep the two texts in sync. I can disallow page-breaks within paragraphs, but I'd have to be extraordinarily lucky for the two texts to end up breaking at the same points every time; it would just take one slightly-shorter paragraph on one side to put them out of sync by a paragraph. Such a strategy would also be rather a paper-waster, because many pages would have a lot of blank space at the bottom.

Has anyone every done anything like this, and if so, do you have any advice? I can imagine that it might be done in a horribly manual fashion by trial and error, working page-by-page, but I really don't want to get into that. I'm happy to pre-process the text multiple times before it goes to the XSL:FO stage., Perhaps there are ways to measure (for instance) how much space a paragraph will take, and then adjust page-margins or spacing by small increments to preserve alignment between the two texts, but I haven't seen examples of such an approach.

All advice much appreciated.


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