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Programming Lout Backends

From: Christoph Angerer
Subject: Programming Lout Backends
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2008 19:07:35 +0100


I am totally new to the list and also to lout. Since I didn't find an answer to my question, neither in the manuals nor in the archives, I hoped that you guys might be able to help me and give me some hints.

I am developing a small intranet page where users should be able to upload (lout?) documents and other users should be able to download those documents in different formats for different ebook readers.

I would prefer lout over latex as the user input, because it seems to be much easier to use for non-experts. (but their documents are currently rather simple anyhow, so even rich text would do:)

Because the whole ebook reader business is still pretty new, every company seems to use their own formats. This whole ebook conversion field is a total mess (http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E- book_conversion). A lot of those devices can display PDFs, if they have to, but those devices are only really happy with their own format. (a lot of the current formats seem to be variants of HTML in nature).

My idea would have been, to use lout as the "lingua franca" and provide different backends in lout to generate the formats directly instead of trying to convert postscript files into mobipocket files.

My question is now: does anybody think this is feasible? How difficult is it (in practice) to write another lout backend? As I said, the input documents are–at least for now–rather simple texts with sections and subsections and maybe sometimes boldface font or a quote.

In the lout source code, backends look pretty well modularized; I am thinking of the typedef struct back_end_rec in externs.h that seems to provide some plugin functionality. So is it as simple as providing implementations of those 26 functions to produce a file in a completely new format? Or are there some caveats or am i missing something? (Since the PDF backend is kinda discontinued it makes me think that this might be harder than it looks...)

Sorry for the somewhat long email:) But thank you very much in advance for any thoughts or pointers you can give me.


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