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Conversion from SGML or HTML to TeX

SGML is a very important system for document storage and interchange, but it has no formatting features; its companion ISO standard DSSSL (see http://www.jclark.com/dsssl/) is designed for writing transformations and formatting, but this has not yet been widely implemented. Some SGML authoring systems (e.g., SoftQuad Author/Editor) have formatting abilities, and there are high-end specialist SGML typesetting systems (e.g., Miles33’s Genera). However, the majority of SGML users probably transform the source to an existing typesetting system when they want to print. TeX is a good candidate for this. There are three approaches to writing a translator:

  1. Write a free-standing translator in the traditional way, with tools like yacc and lex; this is hard, in practice, because of the complexity of SGML.
  2. Use a specialist language designed for SGML transformations; the best known are probably Omnimark and Balise. They are expensive, but powerful, incorporating SGML query and transformation abilities as well as simple translation.
  3. Build a translator on top of an existing SGML parser. By far the best-known (and free!) parser is James Clark’s nsgmls, and this produces a much simpler output format, called ESIS, which can be parsed quite straightforwardly (one also has the benefit of an SGML parse against the DTD). Two good public domain packages use this method:

    • David Megginson’s sgmlspm, written in Perl 5.
    • Joachim Schrod and Christine Detig’s STIL, (‘SGML Transformations in Lisp’).

    Both of these allow the user to write ‘handlers’ for every SGML element, with plenty of access to attributes, entities, and information about the context within the document tree.

    If these packages don’t meet your needs for an average SGML typesetting job, you need the big commercial stuff.

Since HTML is simply an example of SGML, we do not need a specific system for HTML. However, Nathan Torkington developed html2latex from the HTML parser in NCSA’s Xmosaic package. The program takes an HTML file and generates a LaTeX file from it. The conversion code is subject to NCSA restrictions, but the whole source is available on CTAN.

Michel Goossens and Janne Saarela published a very useful summary of SGML, and of public domain tools for writing and manipulating it, in TUGboat 16(2).

html2latex source
support/html2latex (or browse the directory); catalogue entry


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URL for this question: http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?label=SGML2TeX

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This is FAQ version 3.27, released on 2013-06-07.