How to deliver on the promise of XML? For years I have been thinking about how to leverage XML to be able to publish multiple documents from a single complex XML documents. XML makes sense as a tool for publishing. In the project management world, we deal with a myriad of formats for basically the same data. Proposals, Statements of Work, Status Reports, Requirement Documents, Issue Logs, Design Documents, Test Documents. . . the list goes on and on.
All of these use the same set of information over and over again. Yet, most solutions that I have found are locked in the world of Word Templates with a separate document template for each type. This means massive reproduction of data and lots of opportunity for things to get lost.
Can XML->PDF be the answer?
Here are some resources I am used to explore this topic further:
For the project that had the immedate needs, I went with a two part approach. First, I created the complex XML document by creating data classes, populating then and then saving them as XML. I then used XSLT to convert the XML to presentation HTML for viewing on the Browser. For the PDF, I found a great utility which allows me to convert HTML to PDF. While this solution did not give me as much control over the output as an XSL-FO solution, it was easier to implement and can be used throughout the organization to create PDF of existing HTML
While the solution worked for the current project, I am still hopeful that the quality of tools will continue to improve and make this task easier.