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FOSI Retirement

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FOSI Retirement

The DoD and the aerospace industry have relied on Arbortext Editor and FOSI for twenty years, and I expect they will object to PTC/Arbortext’s announcements regarding FOSI and Print Composer. Some aerospace and Defense subcontractors/suppliers are small businesses that cannot possibly afford APP and Publishing Engine.

As with defense and aerospace, some major global enterprises are heavily invested in Arbortext Editor and FOSI. I expect they will have objections as well.
BTW: I do not know how many Arbortext Editor customers publish with FOSI. However, I can tell you that my posting to the Arbortext Community a few months ago about using the FOSI Putgraph category to re-size graphic entities for print/PDF output received more than 2,000 hits in less than three months.
PTC/Arbortext is recommending Styler with the APP engine, but abundant evidence has shown that Styler is adequate only for simple formatting requirements. While service information has little or no need for fancy page layouts and fine typography, the formatting requirements can go beyond simple. Consequently, Styler requires source edits for many things, including boxing (which happens to be prevalent in service information). However, when a source edit is made to an element in Styler, the regular Styler code for it can no longer be changed—ouch!
To learn what formatting features are supported by APP, I searched the Help Center and found the "Accessing APP Features" table (search for "Print Features Available with APP"). It turns out that different features are available with Styler, Styler source edits, an associated APP template, and a native APP template.
Looking into Styler source edits, I found the following APP, XSL-FO, and FOSI source edits in axdocbook.style (in 6.0 doctypes), which add boxing to a block element.
APP source edits for boxing
<editedsource minorversion="23" sourcetype="app" stylerversion="5"><onenter type="application/x-javascript" xml:space="preserve">//Apply a -2.999pt rule to the block to offset the main rulevar rule = new fRule();with (rule) { thickness = "-2.999pt"; lineColor = "None"; sides = "tblr";}block.rules.addRule(rule);
//Apply the main rule to the blockvar rule = new fRule();with (rule) { //Line thickness thickness = "1pt"; //Line colour lineColor = "Black"; //Sides (top, bottom, left and right) sides = "tblr"; //Fill colour specifies background for boxing fillColor = "#F0F0F0";}block.rules.addRule(rule);
//Apply a final rule to the block to remove the offsetvar rule = new fRule();with (rule) { thickness = "2pt"; lineColor = "None"; sides = "tblr";}block.rules.addRule(rule);
]]></onenter><onexit type="application/x-javascript"xml:space="preserve"></onexit></editedsource>
XSL source edits for boxing
<editedsource sourcetype="xslFo"><xsl:template name="ps-box"xmlns:xsl="&lt;a" style="COLOR:" blue;=" text-decoration:=" underline&quot;=" target="_BLANK" href="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">">http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform"> <xsl:attributename=&quot;background-color&quot;>#F0F0F0</xsl:attribute> <xsl:attributename=&quot;border&quot;>thin solid</xsl:attribute> <xsl:attribute name="padding">2pt</xsl:attribute> </xsl:template></editedsource>
FOSI source edits for boxing
<editedsource sourcetype="fosi"><charsubset charsubsetid="box"><boxing toffset="3pt" boffset="4pt" loffset="2pt" roffset="2pt"thick="1pt" inclr="#F0F0F0"/"></charsubset></editedsource>
In samples\APP, I found XML documents and Styler stylesheets with source edits in the following directories:
- Blocks\Boxing

- Blocks\Rotation

- Colour [sic]

- CountersAndVariables

- Testing\Attributes

- Testing\LineOnPage

- Testing\PageNumber

- Testing\TextProperties

- TextProperties
ApplyAttributes.stylefrom Testing\Attributes is attached. The .xml file (not attached) says: "This sample is intended to show how to use attribute values provided in mark up to drive formatting properties directly." Since the .style file is an XML file, you can open it in Arbortext Editor to see the source edits.

These examples naturally raise the question: How does one learn what one needs to know in order to make Styler source edits for the APP engine?
I searched PTC's website for Advanced Print Publisher training but found none. And apparently no Styler courses are offered in the next six months.

However, there are thousands of pages of documentation on APP, with and without Styler. The following manuals related to Styler and/or APP are availabe on PTC’s website.
1. Styler User’s Guide (988 pages with index)
This guide:

"describes, and uses examples to illustrate, how the key tools and functions of Arbortext Styler help you create simple to complex stylesheets for publishing to multiple outputs.”

Prerequisite knowledge is as follows:

“Arbortext Styler can be used by anyone with a basic understanding of document structure and the principles of layout and design. The advanced features of Arbortext Styler will be most useful to users who have previous experience creating stylesheets in a production environment.”

2. Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher for Styler Users(190 pageswith index)
This manual:

“provides the information necessary to understand the formatting process and provide an alternative viewpoint to coding stylesheets, compared to that traditionally available in PTC Arbortext Styler.”

Prerequisite knowledge is:

“The information in this guide is focused on creating page-based output primarily for print. Users should have an understanding of print requirements and the mechanisms and terminology involved in creating page-based output.
“Basic understanding of concepts such as XML/SGML, scripting, and document publication.”

3. Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher Stylesheet Developer’s Guide (86 pageswith index)
This guide is about:

“how to extend a stylesheet beyond Arbortext Styler, thus providing APP functionality that is not immediately accessible via the Arbortext Styler UI.”

The "Prerequisite Knowledge" section says:

“For an introduction to the integration of Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher (APP) in Arbortext Styler, please refer to Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher in Arbortext Styler in Arbortext Styler help. This describes the functionality of APP included with Arbortext Styler. You will also find an overview of how to access APP print engine functionality for publishing and incorporate APP code in your Arbortext Styler stylesheet.
“The following knowledge is prerequisite to the content in this document:
“Familiarity with Arbortext Styler, its UI and the formatting options it provides
“Familiarity with the formatting options provided by Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher
“Proficiency in the use of the JavaScript scripting language, which provides access to the functionality described in the FOM
“Basic knowledge of concepts such as object based coding and scripting”

4. Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher Formatting Objects Model Reference (979 pages)
This manual:

“is the definitive reference manual to support coding of an Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher application based on the APPFormatting Object Model (FOM). It contains descriptions of all the objects included in the model, and any constants, properties and methods that make up an object's definition. As such it contains all the information required to set up and maintain an APP template and, hence, any document produced from that template.”

Prerequisite knowledge is:

“Familiarity with the basic components and processes that make up APP and the experience necessary to use this knowledge to program the application to correspond with individual business requirements. If this is not the case, please refer to the documentArbortext Advanced Print Publisher User’s Guide, which contains an overview of the product. Although any instructions in that guide are based on the traditional proprietary APP syntax, which is still in operation as a programming method, it is a useful starting point to learn your way around APP.”
“Proficiency in the use of the JavaScript scripting language, which provides access to the APP functionality described in the FOM, if you are intending to program your APP application using the FOM
“Basic knowledge of concepts such as object based coding and scripting"

5. Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher User’s Guide (84 pageswith index)
This guide:

“is intended as an introduction to the Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher (APP) product, with some tips and instructions on how to create a basic template. Its target audience is those developers and document production specialists who are approaching APP for the first time and have no prior experience of its functionality and processes. The document should serve as a useful ‘beginners guide’, which will assist you in getting the most out of APP.
“After reading this document you should have a comprehensive top level understanding of the product's purpose and operating method and be equipped to navigate around the interface. Although you can only get to see the full scope of the product's useby actually working with it and your own content, you should have some ideas on how to proceed with more complex applications after reading this guide.
“Note This document is not intended as a user guide or a reference manual. Details of how to access information of this nature is contained in the Further Reading section of this document (see Further Reading on page 62) .”

Prerequisite knowledge is: “Basic knowledge of concepts such as object based coding and scripting.”
5. Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher Macro Language Reference (1492 pageswith index)
This manual:

“is the definitive reference manual for information about the macros and processing instructions (PI) employed within Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher (APP). It contains all the information you need to use macros and PIs to create, manage, and publish your documents and configure your system setup.”

Prerequisite knowledge is:

“Working familiarity with the basic components and processes that make up Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher (APP) and the experience necessary to use this knowledge to program the application to correspond with individual business requirements. If thisis not the case, please refer to the document Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher User’s Guide, which contains an overview of the product. This reference is a useful starting point to learn your way around APP.
“Basic understanding of concepts such as XML/SGML, scripting and document publication.”

6. Installing Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher (42 pageswith index)
This manual:

"provides administration information for the Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher — Enterprise product. It describes the components, system requirements, configuration files, and commands you need to create to complete an installation."

No prerequisite knowledge is listed.
7. Installing Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher—Enterprise (11 pageswith index)
This manual:

"contains installation and licensing guidelines to enable you to install the following products on a Windows platform:


- "Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher —Desktop
- "Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher —Server
- "Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher —Enterprise"
No prerequisite knowledge is listed.

8. Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher Administrator’s Guide—Enterprise (73 pageswith index)
This guide:

"provides instructions for installing the Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher — Enterprise product. It describes the accounts, settings, and properties you need to create to complete an installation."

No prerequisite knowledge is listed.

At this point, I have the following questions:
- Does PTC/Arbortext plan to offer native, non-StylerAPP hands-on training or self-paced tutorials?
- Does PTC/Arbortextplan toprovide sample files for native, non-Styler APP?
- Can APP be accessed via Document Architect?
- APP is known for its fancy page layout capabilities— can they be supported in Styler, with or without source edits?

- Do Styler source edits slow formatting speed?
- Styler-generated APP code is not always optimized for speed. What are the options for dealing with that?
- How does APP formatting speed — with and without Styler — compare with FOSI formatting speed?
- Can native APP be modularized? In other words, is there a way to support standardized formatting?
BTW: I think the manuals must have been formatted with APP, presumaby using a Styler stylesheet, because the formatting is not the same as the formatting from the FOSI and XSL stylesheets used in versions before 6.0.
I hope this is helpful. Please let me know any questions you may have.Suzanne Napoleonwww.FOSIexpert.com"WYSIWYG is last-century technology!"
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2 REPLIES 2

FOSI Retirement

I would challenge the claim made by PTC that “Arbortext Styler can be used by anyone with a basic understanding of document structure and the principles of layout and design.” I have lots of experience in Graphic Design, over 20 years, and Styler is not simple to use by any means. In my opinion, the manual, which is over 1000 pages does not cover things in enough detail for a typical entry level user. I would have liked to see a complete tutorial with an example of each type of data output from a single source, start to finish.

Using a stylesheet developed with Styler I get different results from the same stylesheet when publishing to HTML depending on whether or not Styler is open first and has the Stylesheet loaded, or through the Editor and choosing the stylesheet when publishing. In the latter case, some of the styling is lost and I’m not sure why.

Some things happen when publishing to HTML that are unpredictable. Most of my tables are measured in picas, and that means my variable column widths don’t convert at all.

I styled some custom tables from xml data module markup in S1000D and those tables display in HTML at 100% of the page width with column widths divided by 480 pixels. The following is a custom table, note the default values of the two columns are 480 px when added together. The table displays to the full width of the html page.

[cid:image003.png@01D012F3.9B01E550]

At the moment I don’t appear to have any predictable way of controlling variable table column widths when they are set to picas. In general, I found that if there are no column values set, Styler’s conversion to HTML supplies the values, dividing all the columns equally so the total value = 480px and supplies a value of 100% for the table width. I find that an odd mismatch of values. I would have thought the column widths would also have been in % values.

[cid:image006.png@01D012F4.5401AAE0]

Predicting the result is an essential part of Design; so this gets a failing mark.

FOSI Retirement

Another thing that bothers me about this is that if you already are using FOSI and creating output what possible cost benefit is there in going to Styler/APP? Where is the benefit to the customer? Where is the return on costs? Imagine going back to the customer and saying, hey guess what, we need to completely re-write that print FOSI and here is what it’s going to cost. The customer is going to balk or ask you to absorb the cost if you expect to keep doing business with them. Predictably, the approach will be to keep using a particular version of the software and FOSI as long as they will continue to have value and deliver a cost effective product that meets customer requirements. A software version and FOSI have value to a customer over a much longer period than I think PTC expects. It’s different than if you were starting a stylesheet from scratch.