Converting MIF to XML

MIF (Maker Interchange Format) is an ASCII text representation of a FrameMaker document. You can export your FrameMaker documents into this text based representation to allow for parsing and manipulation by external tools outside of FrameMaker. You can also import MIF files back into FrameMaker. If your interested in reading more about MIF you can check out the MIF Reference from Adobe (link may be out of date).

There’s a great perl module on CPAN for working with MIF files called FrameMaker::MifTree. It’s a subclass of Tree::DAG_Node and provides a nice interface for modifying the in-memory tree structure and dumping back out into MIF. The only downside to this module is that it’s very slow especially with larger MIF files.

At O’Reilly we’ve had to work with MIF files quite a bit and have taken several different approaches for processing MIF most of which turn out to be unmaintainable scripts that are not very pleasant to work with. One of the ideas Andrew S. and Keith came up with was to convert MIF to an intermediate XML format which would allow us to process MIF using XML tools such as XSLT and XQuery. From this intermediate XML format we can transform to DocBook, WordML, or even convert back to MIF again for later importing into FrameMaker. This approach was very appealing as it can greatly reduce the number of one off scripts and allow us to benefit from the wide variety of libraries for parsing and transforming XML.

For example, the following snippet from a MIF file:

#
# Example of MIF 
#
<FontCatalog
 <Font
  <FTag `Acronym'>
  <FPosition FSubscript>
  <FLocked No>
 > # end of Font
> # end of FontCatalog

Would get converted to this XML:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!--
 Example XML from MIF
-->
<mif>
  <FontCatalog>
    <Font>
      <FTag>`Acronym'</FTag>
      <FPosition>FSubscript</FPosition>
      <FLocked>No</FLocked>
    </Font>
  </FontCatalog>
</mif>

This is not a new idea and one tool I know of which seems to do a similar task is called MIFML written by Leximation which coverts MIF to MIFML (an intermediate XML dialect they created). Unfortunately, it only runs on Windows and is not open source. They have however released the DTD they are using for MIFML.

I thought this would be a fun problem to take a stab at so I built tool called mif2xml that produces output that looks a lot like the example above. You can download a copy here or browse the source code online via svn.

The guts of mif2xml include a lexer mif.ll and a helper class for writing out MIF XML tags. I chose to create a c++ lexer so I could make use of the STL stack and string classes. Here’s the mif.ll file which gets run through flex to generate the lexer:

/** 
 * Copyright (c) 2007 Andrew Bruno <aeb@qnot.org>
 * Licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2
 */

%{
#include <iostream>
#include <stack>
#include <string>
#include <miftag.h>
using namespace std;

stack<Tag> tags;
string data;
string facet;
%}

%option  noyywrap
%option  c++
%x DATA
%x STR
%x FACET

ID                [A-Za-z][A-Za-z0-9]*
TAG               "<"{ID}" "
TAG_END           ">"
NONNEWLINE        [^\r|\n|\r\n]
NEWLINE           [\r|\n|\r\n]
WHITE_SPACE_CHAR  [ \n\t]

%%

<INITIAL>{TAG}  {
    Tag tag;
    string name = YYText();
    tag.name = name.substr(1, name.length()-2);
    tags.push(tag);
    tag.writeStart();
    data = string("");
    BEGIN(DATA);
}

<INITIAL>{TAG_END} {
    if(!tags.empty()) {
        Tag tag = tags.top();
        tag.writeEnd();
        tags.pop();
    }
}

<INITIAL>^"="[a-zA-Z][a-zA-Z0-9]*{NEWLINE} {
    facet = string("");
    string str = string(YYText());
    facet.append(str);
    BEGIN(FACET);
}

<INITIAL>{WHITE_SPACE_CHAR}+   {  /* eat up whitespace */ }
<INITIAL>{NONNEWLINE}          {  /* eat up everything else  */ }

<DATA>{NEWLINE}  {
    if(!tags.empty()) {
        Tag tag = tags.top();
        tag.value = data;
    }
    BEGIN(INITIAL);
}
<DATA>"`"  {  BEGIN(STR); }
<DATA>{TAG_END}  {
    if(!tags.empty()) {
        Tag tag = tags.top();

        if(data.length() > 0) {
            tag.value = data;
        }
        tag.writeEnd();
        tags.pop();
    }
    BEGIN(INITIAL);
}
<DATA>[^\n|\r|\r\n|`|>] {
    string str = string(YYText());
    data.append(str);
}

<STR>"'"  {
    if(!tags.empty()) {
        Tag &tag = tags.top();
        if(tag.value.length() == 0) {
            tag.value = "`'";
        }
    }
    BEGIN(INITIAL);
}
<STR>[^']*  {
    if(!tags.empty()) {
        Tag &tag = tags.top();
        string str = string(YYText());
        string buf = "`";
        buf.append(str);
        buf.append("'");
        tag.value = buf;
    }
}

<FACET>^"=EndInset"{NEWLINE} {
    string str = string(YYText());
    facet.append(str);
    writeFacet(facet);
    BEGIN(INITIAL);
}

<FACET>.*{NEWLINE} {
    string str = string(YYText());
    facet.append(str);
}

%%

int main(int argc, char **argv) {
    cout << "<?xml version=\"1.0\"?><mif>";
    FlexLexer* lexer = new yyFlexLexer;
    while(lexer->yylex() != 0);
    cout << "</mif>";
    return 0;
}

Here’s the miftag.h file which contains a helper class for writing out MIF XML tags. Rather than having a dependency on libxml or some other XML processing library I choose to just implement the XML output by hand. It’s not nearly as robust but it worked out ok for a first pass.

/** 
 * Copyright (c) 2007 Andrew Bruno <aeb@qnot.org>
 * Licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2
 */

#ifndef __MIFTAG__
#define __MIFTAG__

#include <string>
using namespace std;

class Tag {
    public:
        string name;
        string value;

        void writeEnd();
        void writeStart();
};

void Tag::writeEnd() {
    if(!this->value.empty()) {
        /* escape xml special chars */
        string::size_type size = this->value.size();
        for(string::size_type i = 0; i < size;) {
            if(this->value[i] == '&') {
                this->value.replace(i, 1, "&");
                i += 4;
                size += 4;
            } else if(this->value[i] == '<') {
                this->value.replace(i, 1, "<");
                i += 3;
                size += 3;
            } else if(this->value[i] == '>') {
                this->value.replace(i, 1, ">");
                i += 3;
                size += 3;
            } else if(this->value[i] == '"') {
                this->value.replace(i, 1, """);
                i += 5;
                size += 5;
            } else {
                i++;
            }
        }

        /* Trim leading spaces */
        while(this->value[0] == ' ') {
            this->value.erase(0, 1);
        }

        /* Trim trailing spaces */
        while(this->value[this->value.size()-1] == ' ') {
            this->value.erase(this->value.size()-1, 1);
        }

        cout << value << "</" << this->name << ">";
    } else {
        cout << "</" << this->name << ">";
    }
}

void Tag::writeStart() {
    cout << "<" << this->name << ">";
}

void writeFacet(string facet) {
    cout << "<_facet><![CDATA[" << facet << "]]></_facet>";
}

#endif

Finally a quick and dirty Makefile:

all:
	flex++ mif.ll
	g++ -I. -o mif2xml lex.yy.cc -lfl

clean:
	rm -f lex.yy.cc *.o mif2xml

The code above has not been thoroughly tested on all possible MIF files so your mileage may vary. We currently use a version of mif2xml at O’Reilly on the occasions we need to process MIF and has been working out quite well. The XML generated from mif2xml is then run through a set of custom transforms written in XSLT 2.0 which transform the MIF XML to DocBook, WordML, and various other formats.

In my next post I’ll discuss a pure Java version of mif2xml which uses a great library called JFlex for generating the MIF lexer.