Author Topic: How to use html for desktop publishing?  (Read 83 times)

Ruben129

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How to use html for desktop publishing?
« on: January 11, 2019, 06:29:33 am »
Not considering ad-hoc programs (like Adobe Indesign, the open source Scribus or word processors), it seems to me that Latex is the only markup language used for document preparation able to generate beautiful PDF documents.

I thought that HTML + CSS would make a terrific combination for the purpose. HTML can be easily generated from a mid-layer format (like markdown), a bit of programming based on classes can generate indexes and notes (and so on) and CSS can really style a page with ease. Preparing a document would turn out to be way easier than using Latex that is incredibly powerful but making something "out of the standard" is really hard.

The hard part would be getting the PDF. While there are a number of programs (also free) to get a PDF out of HTML, I can't see how to retain the concept of "page". One would write the document as a single, long HTML page and let the program split it into pages, apply footnotes, headers, page numbers...

Is there already such a program? Has anyone any idea on how to implement it? Thanks.

a.l.e

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Re: How to use html for desktop publishing?
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2019, 09:52:38 am »
i think that the short answer is : no, no way to use html and css for doing desktop publishing.

the long answer can be quite long, since many people have tried that way in the past and css 3 is supposed to help getting there.

the first name that comes to mind is of course open source publishing: http://osp.kitchen/
they have now been experimenting for years with new ways of publishing and -- as far as i know -- more recently they have been focusing on html based workflows.

this is the abstract of stéphanie's talk at the libre graphics meeting 2017:

"A moment to set up, test and discuss html2print, a set of tools developed by Open Source Publishing, to lay out printed documents using web tools (HTML, CSS, Javascript). Waiting for web browsers to implement CSS3 specs for print, html2print offers small utilities (crop marks, view as spread, checking image resolution…) to preview documents inside a page. html2print has been presented at Libre Graphics 2015."

the work she and alexandre are doing tend to be amazing. it's worth to look into it.

just a few days ago i stumbled upon "Using Web Technologies to Print a Book" (http://richardmavis.info/using-web-technologies-to-print-a-book). An interesting read by most comments seemed to agree that wkhtmltopdf does not produce work of high / acceptable typographic quality

personally, i'm setting up a workflow based on markdown (which, basically, is html + a custom simpler format inside of it), but for the real pdf, i plan to support scribus and "manual" layouting.

if i understand you correctly, you're rather looking into a GUI tool that helps you layout with html. i don't think that such a tool exists. but, as you guess from what i've written above, the whole toolchain around it is not ready, yet (so, if even such a tool would exist, you could not create good quality pdfs).

a.l.e

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Re: How to use html for desktop publishing?
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2019, 10:15:03 am »
P.S.: the original post is spam and i'll be deleting the user now.
sadly, my check for a stackoverflow post failed and i did not find the closed question that has been copied in here.
i cannot put my reply on stackoverflow (since the question is closed) and i consider the question to be on topic enough to be left in here.
if somebody wants it to be removed i'll do it...