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Subject: Single-source XML documentation solution
From: Eoin Campbell <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:General discussion of Extensible Markup Language <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 15 Mar 1999 12:19:05 +0000
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If you specify that the use must be able to view from a
Web browser the exact same files that are used for editing,
then the only solution _to-day_ is to store all your
documentation in HTML files.

However, if you wait until Thursday (18/03/99), Microsoft will
release MS-IE5, and if you bundle it with your software,
you will be able to use XML files in combination with
CSS style-sheets for editing and distributing your information.
This is OK for Windows NT, but won't help you with Unix
platforms.  Netscape/Mozilla should have a multi-platform
XML browser by summer, and have beta-versions available now.


The other issue is, what do you use to edit your XML files?
At present, my understanding is that Arbortext ADEPT
Editor is the only practical editor, but it is expensive
in the US ($1,400 ?), and outrageous outside (UKP >2,000 ?).

FrameMaker+SGML can be used to edit XML files, but requires
significant set-up and configuration before it will write
XML according to the DTD you use.

I have downloaded a large number of beta versions of XML
editors, and they are all awful, IMHO. None seem to consider
that they are text-editors like MS-Word, but rather data-editors,
where the content of each XML element is a field to be filled in.

SoftQuad plan an XML Editor priced at approx $500, but I don't
know when it will be released, although a beta-version has
been distributed.

>>Is this a pipe-dream? Pie in the sky? Am I crazy for expecting to be
>>able to do this in 1999?
No, I think it is quite a realistic expectation myself,
but remember you will also have to define a DTD (DocBook?),
and convert all your existing documentation from FrameMaker,
so even when possible, it will require a big effort to switch.


At 00:01 15/03/99 +0000, Alex Ragen wrote:
>> We are looking very hard for a single-source solution to our
>> multiple-format output requirements. Buzz language aside, I mean that
>> we want to maintain one source using Adobe FrameMaker (a DTP tool)
>> that
>> lets us see the files as though they were print
>> documents and lets our users see the same files (not other files
>> derived from our source files but THE VERY SAME FILES) using a Web
>> browser (which will do double-duty as a help engine), keeping all
>> links, cross-references and graphics intact and functioning. For this
>> we need to be able to edit XML files directly using the "printed page"
>> metaphor.
>

And Marcus Carr replied:
>Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but have you considered using
>FrameMaker+SGML? You may need to make the SGML declaration look like
>something that would support XML (Namecase="no", Omittag="no", remapped
>PIC and a few other bits and pieces - I can provide a declaration if you
>like). Saving as XML should preserve the element names and will also
>create a CSS file that may be of some use. You should also be able to
>reopen the XML file (as SGML), and have Frame's template format it
>correctly on the way in.

--
Eoin Campbell, Technical Director,
XML Workshop Ltd,
4 Greenmount Office Park, Harolds Cross, Dublin 6W, IRELAND.
Email: [log in to unmask]
Phone: +353 1 4547811; Fax: +353 1 4731626
Web: www.xmlw.ie

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