Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Day: January 24, 2007

Sonic Foundry Unveils Enhanced Multi-Modal Search Capabilities on Mediasite.com

Sonic Foundry Inc. (NASDAQ:SOFO) has enabled advanced search capabilities for Mediasite.com, a searchable Website focused exclusively on offering expert information via rich media presentations with video, audio and graphics. The site enhancements combine phonetic search, optical character recognition, language processing and contextual analysis. Mediasite.com aggregates nearly 13,000 rich media presentations, including over 250,000 slides and almost 9,500 hours of analyzed audio on topics ranging from the treatment of contagious diseases and general health-related issues to robotics, business start-ups, sociology, ethics, financial advice, personal improvement and career advancement. Mediasite.com provides visitors with a directory of these publicly available presentations created by hundreds of experts around the globe. Optical character recognition allows for word and phrase spotting within slide content or visual aids. Advanced phonetic search algorithms coupled with language processing and contextual analysis provide the ability to locate specific spoken words or phrases within a rich media archive, based on algorithms developed by Sonic Foundry. Sonic Foundry customers can now take advantage of these advanced search features for their own Mediasite content through new hosted services offered through Sonic Foundry’s professional services group. http://www.mediasite.com/, http://www.sonicfoundry.com/

Ipedo Launches Enhanced XQuery Views

Ipedo announced major enhancements to the XQuery Views capabilities in Ipedo XIP. In conjunction with the W3C’s formal establishment of the XQuery standard, Ipedo now provides organizations with enhanced XML query processing and data virtualization in their EII platform. Ipedo’s XQuery Views – a data virtualization approach that allows data to be combined without the need to copy, stage and transform it – also enables queries across combinations of data from remote XML and relational sources. This feature increases access to data and content across organizations. Ipedo’s XQuery can be used in conjunction with the XML processing and XQuery now available in Oracle 10g, DB2, and Microsoft SQL Server. Ipedo XIP allows XQuery Views results to be cached natively in XML. The new XQuery engine implements query operators that stream data values, so that query evaluation is memory efficient. XQuery Views can now be invoked directly via a Web Services API. Ipedo XIP can automatically generate the WSDL file needed for a particular XQuery View. In addition to standard data sources, Ipedo’s XQuery extension framework now makes it possible for users to make custom data sources, such as in-house applications accessed using custom APIs. In addition to the above features, Ipedo has developed further enhancements to XQuery in Ipedo XIP’s Dual-Core Query Architecture, including access to stored procedures in relational databases with support for parameterization of the XQuery Views that access them, and extended query plan description that will allow deeper drilldown of the steps involved in XQuery execution. These enhancements are available immediately for Ipedo XIP version 4.2 on Windows 2000, Windows NT, Sun Solaris, Red Hat Linux and SuSE Linux. Pricing is on a per-CPU basis. http://www.ipedo.com

SoftCare Releases SoftCare K4 Version 5.7

Version 5.7 of publishing solution SoftCare K4 is now available. The new release of the editorial system includes several enhancements that can help publishers using Adobe InDesign and InCopy. Among these features are a new scripting interface for automating customer-specific processes, and the optional K4 Web Editor 2.0, which allows users to write and edit articles to fit in a Web browser and offers more flexibility in including the staff in the work processes. An improvement in Version 5.7 enables functions specific to the K4 system to be accessed automatically through scripts (JavaScript, AppleScript or Visual Basic), improving speed and productivity by allowing users to automate certain tasks within the editorial workflow. K4 Web Editor 2.0 lets users write, edit and copyfit Adobe InCopy articles in K4 from any computer with nothing more than a Web browser and an Internet connection. Articles checked out with K4 Web Editor are locked in the database; check-in from Web Editor unlocks the file and updates the database. Accurate representations of K4 articles, complete with styling, font mapping and layout geometry, are generated by Adobe InDesign Server and made available via a password-protected browser interface. It also allows users to work offline. Other improvements include the new easy query mode which allows quick searching for document names, and improved accessibility with larger fonts in the job lists. SoftCare K4 version 5.7 is available from K4 System Integrators worldwide. Customers using K4 version 5.0 or higher with valid maintenance agreements are eligible for a free upgrade. The K4 Web Editor is available for purchase as an option for K4 5.6 and 5.7 installations. K4 supports Mac OS X and Windows clients in mixed-platform environments. The server software is available for Mac OS X, Windows, Sun Solaris and Linux. http://www.softcare.de

Online Help and Customer Experience

Although I have been out of the technical writing trenches for some time now, I enjoy staying in touch with my techdoc buddies and keeping up with the hot issues. One I remember well is the challenges in the early 90’s of single-sourcing documentation for print, electronic, and context-sensitive online help delivery.

Apparently it’s still hot, despite the release of RoboHelp6 from Adobe, a tool I remember quite well. This is the first product update Adobe has released since the company bought Macromedia over a year ago. Product reviewers generally agree that Adobe beat the estimated delivery date by months, although there is some confusion over dueling version numbers according to my friend Char James-Tanny over at helpstuff.com. Still, an early release is a good sign in terms of a company’s current and future commitment to a product.

On the other hand, product reviewers also seem to agree that “XML does not seem to be a priority.” Hmmm. That certainly does not bode well for champions of single-sourcing for multi-channel publishing (although the new version automates hyperlinked PDF creation.) Even more interesting are the passionate responses to an unfavorable monkeyPi product review, including an extremely detailed rebuttal from Rick Stone, Adobe’s Community Expert for the product (although he’s not an employee…)

Without claiming to have reviewed the product, what I find most interesting is Adobe’s focus on source and version control, team collaboration and workflow, and the usage tracking capabilities of RoboHelp Server6. Adobe describes this latter feature as the ability to identify frequently-viewed content, view usage statistics, and uncover search trends.

As we’ve discussed in numerous posts, relevant content and customer experience are intrinsically related, whether the project is Web site design, localization efforts, or yes, even online help development. (Part 2 of our series on this subject, Small Content Changes, Big Impact takes place on Thursday February 1st.) Assuming RoboHelp Server6 provides the insight into the online help user experience it claims, its value to techdoc departments striving for more “upstream impact” in their organization could be quite significant.

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