New to DITA Map PDF - based on HTML5 & CSS

Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:29 am

New to DITA Map PDF - based on HTML5 & CSS

Post by mjlorenzi » Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:20 pm


Getting started with XML Author for my DITA project and the first things I'm looking at are the publishing options.

I will needing to provide both PDF and WebHelp. The WebHelp has me less concerned, but the PDF will require some tweaking I'm sure.

My first question:

Is Oxygen PDF Chemistry already installed with Oxygen XML Author - does it run in the background?
I ran some sample transformations and I used the DITA Map PDF - based on HTML5 & CSS scenario that comes right out of the box. And well it generates a pretty good PDF - of course the fonts and styling are not what I want, but that's where the CSS comes in.

If Oxygen PDF Chemistry is not already installed in Oxygen XML Author, do I even need it if I can use the default PDF transformation scenario?

So where is the CSS file that is used on this out-of-the-box transformation scenario? If I can access this CSS file I think I'm off to the races.

But I want to make sure I am doing things right. The only reason for my post is I do not have luxury of taking time to learn the ins and outs of OxygenXML Author - wish I did. :)

Posts: 721
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:04 pm

Re: New to DITA Map PDF - based on HTML5 & CSS

Post by Costin » Fri Oct 18, 2019 5:23 pm


I've just deleted your other post, as it seems you were asking exactly the same questions there as well, so I will reply to this one instead.

Our proprietary Chemistry engine comes bundled in all of the standalone GUI products (Editor/Author/Developer). As you already figured out, the DITA Map PDF based on HTML5 and CSS trasnformation scenario uses the Chemistry engine to output the PDF and you could fine tune the resulted PDF using your own CSS customization.

There is also the PDF Chemistry standalone product indeed, which is a separate product needing a separate license and comes at a different price.
That specific product is used to produce PDF output based on HTML5 and CSS out of oXygen GUI software products. For example, companies could automate the process using command line scripts. More details on the accepted command line parameters available in the Chemistry User-Guide.

Both the bundled Chemistry and the standalone one are complex engines, based on the Apache FOP XSL-FO engine and tweaked by us to meet even more complex publishing standards.

- So, to answer your first question, like I was saying, this is only needed if you generate PDF outside of oXygen, but if you are OK with manually applying transformation scenarios from inside oXygen GUI and won't need to automate the publishing process, then most probably you won't need the separate product.

- Now, regarding your 2nd question, about the location of the predefined CSS, I'm afraid the answer is not as simple as you might have expected.
There are many default CSS files, in different locations inside the oXygen installation folder.
That's because the CSS files are organized based on their purpose (each default CSS file is used to style a specific page / section / element layout in the resulted PDF).
Basically, the folders that contain the default CSS files are located in Oxygen_Install_Dir\frameworks\dita\DITA-OT3.x\plugins\com.oxygenxml.pdf.css\css

One way to identify what rules are applied and which CSS do they come from is to use your internet browser inspector to inspect the styles applied on the intermediary .html file resulted in the output folder. Please see the Debugging the CSS section from the oXygen User-Guide.

However, please note that editing the default CSS files from the oXygen installation folder is discouraged, because it may lead to issues and the changes could not be reversed. Instead, it is good practice to inspect the intermediate style (as advised above) to identify the correct selectors you need to use to tune the output, then use your own customization CSS file, either directly, through the "args.css" parameter from the transformation scenario configuration, or inside a publishing template.
More details also in the User-Guide, in the Customization CSS section.

I hope this helps and happy publishing!

Costin Sandoi
oXygen XML Editor and Author Support

Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:29 am

Re: New to DITA Map PDF - based on HTML5 & CSS

Post by mjlorenzi » Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:03 pm

Thank you. Yes, I posted twice after not seeing my published post. I didn't see that it was first in a moderator queue. No worries!
And thank you for the reply. Getting closer to giving it a try!

Post Reply