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From Alexios Giotis <alex.gio...@gmail.com>
Subject Producing & archiving FOP intermediate format
Date Wed, 08 Feb 2012 15:30:14 GMT

I am already storing some millions per month of files containing FOP intermediate format (FOP_IF)
using a private patched branch based on FOP 1.0. The current use case is performance. If a
document is found in the store containing FOP_IF, then use it and create the final output
format (typically PDF). If not, then start from XML. The retention period of the FOP_IF files
is 6 months to 1 year. The XML files are kept for at least 10 years. In my tests, 85% of the
time is spent on the layout and the rest for rendering. This has worked well, especially for
big documents (with thousands of pages). I have no worries about the FOP_IF format and how
it will evolve as I know that they will be gone after 6 months or one year max. And for sure,
I can keep an older version for that long. 

I am now planing to use FOP in different ways and use cases such as:

1. Bypassing FOP's layout engine and it's quirks in XSL:FO input, cpu-time and memory. This
means directly creating FOP_IF. With the same effort, I could use PDFBox (or iText 2.x) to
create PDF files. But having FOP_IF, I also produce AFP, PS and PCL which I need and I know
no other open sources renderers.

2. Longer storage of FOP_IF. Compared to storing XML, it's faster, less components are involved
until the final output and it allows for easier versioning. For example, given the same XSL:FO
input, FOP 2.0 will not produce the *identical* content as FOP 1.0 (I hope somebody will disagree
to this :) Compared to storing PDF, the required space is much less as I have big volumes
on expensive EMC storage. Secondly I retain the flexibility on selecting parts to render.
Not all users have the permissions to see all parts of the documents. Also, some users see
masked values (e.g. stars in place of a card number).

For both cases, I really need to know your thoughts and plans for FOP_IF. Watching the lists
the last 2 years, I have not noticed anything related to it.

Alexios Giotis

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