Summary: How to create and compile a printable book from your wiki documentation?
Maintainer: jr
Categories: PDF


Is it possible to create and compile a printable book from your wiki documentation?


Yes. See the wiki to pdf project. Press the Typeset button. It's early days, but the concept is proved. It transforms wiki markup to a print-oriented XML DTD, then runs that through a typesetting engine. jr

Using existing tools you can probably convert your wiki syntax into XML or HTML, then using XSL create a stylized document that could be printed. The advantages here are huge.

The idea is that if you are writing a book in your wiki, whether it be a fiction book, collaborative technical documentation or even articles, at some point you may want to crank out a printed book as a commercial venture, keepsake, or the ultimate backup copy. After hundreds of wiki pages, things start to get tedious. You'll be copy pasting content into a larger word processing document, then formatting over and over. Eventually after all of your busy work, you will have the ability to create a printed version.

Here are some steps that might work:

  1. Current version of Wiki pages are converted from wiki syntax to XML or HTML using some server process
  2. A compilation process copies all pages into one master document
  3. Using XSL-FO or some other process, master document is converted into PDF or even into open document format .ODT (current openoffice 2.0)

Possible issues? If a PDF is created, it will be using designated fonts that must be loaded onto the server for processing. It's important that these fonts are print fonts and are acceptable to the user. If the user was given the option to choose font styles, where would they do so? If an open document openoffice file was created instead, the user shoudl be able to modify the document styles and the whole document should update. This is an ideal way to create a print document as they would have control over the fonts.

What about images? how are images dealt with? In the case of a PDF, the images would need to be embedded at a certain quality. The quality should be determined at some point, as it might mean the difference between a 5 meg and a 150 meg PDF file.

In the case of an open office document, the images are embedded into a pseudo zip file within the .odt file. It's going to retain the max image quality and size that was on the server at the time.

Thoughts for this to work: This idea has amazing potential. You can offer on your website a PDF compiled version of the entire site so somebody could take it with them for reading offline, or print their own version. In the case of manufacturing companies, having documentation that changes over time, but also having up to date PDF versions is a huge advantage. Whether it be for motherboard instructions, or powertools, or setup instructions for baby cribs. Now we are making their site as well as their literature more current.

See Also


Mike Smick