Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Day: January 20, 2009

Ephox Brings Online Content Authoring to IBM Lotus Quickr

Ephox announced the release of a new integration of its rich text editor into IBM’s Lotus Quickr. Lotus Quickr is team collaboration software that helps enterprises share content, collaborate and work faster online. It goes beyond traditional document sharing by adding web-based collaboration with wikis, blogs and team web pages. EditLive! addresses this need with a Word-like authoring experience. It also offers capabilities for image editing, track changes, table editing and accessibility checking. EditLive! integrations for the WebSphere Portal and the Lotus Domino versions of Quickr are available now. The integration for the Quickr Domino platform was co-developed by the PSC Group, a Lotus consulting firm. http://www.ephox.com

Mark Logic Corporation Releases MarkLogic Toolkit for Word

Mark Logic Corporation announced the MarkLogic Toolkit for Word. Distributed under the open-source Apache 2.0 license, the MarkLogic Toolkit for Word delivers a free, simple way for developers to combine native XML-based functionality in both MarkLogic Server and the most common content authoring environment, Microsoft Office Word 2007. Developers can build applications for finding and reusing enterprise content, enriching documents for search and analytics, and enhancing documents with custom metadata. The MarkLogic Toolkit for Word includes a pre-built plug-in framework for Microsoft Office Word 2007, a sample application, and an extensive library for managing and manipulating Microsoft Office Word 2007 documents. Intelligent Authoring – the MarkLogic Toolkit for Word provides the ability to build a role- and task-aware application within Microsoft Office Word 2007 to improve the content authoring process. This functionality allows users to easily locate and preview content at any level of granularity and insert it into an active document, as well as manage custom document metadata. The MarkLogic Toolkit for Word allows developers to build content applications that leverage Office Open XML, the native XML-based format of Microsoft Office Word 2007. The MarkLogic Toolkit for Word includes an add-in application for deploying web-based content applications into Microsoft Office Word 2007. This enables developers to use web development techniques, such as HTML, JavaScript, and .NET to build applications that work in concert with the Microsoft Office Word 2007 authoring environment. The MarkLogic Toolkit for Word also provides XQuery libraries that simplify working with Office Open XML for granular search, dynamic assembly, transformation, and delivery with MarkLogic Server. By leveraging the underlying XML markup, content applications built with MarkLogic and Microsoft Office Word 2007 can “round-trip” documents between various formats. The MarkLogic Toolkit for Word allows developers to inspect, modify, and even redistribute the source code to meet specific needs. You can download the latest release of MarkLogic Toolkit for Word at the Mark Logic Developer Workshop. http://www.marklogic.com

Adobe Launches Technical Communication Suite 2

Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) announced the Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2 software, an upgrade of its solution for authoring, reviewing, managing, and publishing rich technical information and training content across multiple channels. Using the suite, technical communicators can create documentation, training materials and Web-enabled user assistance containing both traditional text and 3D designs along with rich media, including Adobe Flash Player compatible video, AVI, MP3 and SWF file support. The enhanced suite includes Adobe FrameMaker 9, the latest version of Adobe’s technical authoring and DITA publishing solution, Adobe RoboHelp 8, a major upgrade to Adobe’s help system and knowledge base authoring tool, Adobe Captivate 4, an upgrade to Adobe’s eLearning authoring tool, and Photoshop CS4, a new addition to the suite. The suite also includes Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended and Adobe Presenter 7. Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2 is a complete solution that offers improved productivity along with support for standards-based authoring including support for Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA), an XML-based standard for authoring, producing and delivering technical information. It enables the creation of rich content and publishing through multiple channels, including XML/HTML, print, PDF, WSF, WebHelp, Adobe FlashHelp, Microsoft HTML Help, OracleHelp, JavaHelp and Adobe AIR. FrameMaker 9 offers a new user interface. It supports hierarchical books and DITA 1.1, and makes it easier to author topic-based content. In addition, FrameMaker 9 provides a capability to aggregate unstructured, structured and DITA content in a seamless workflow. Using a PDF based review workflow, authors can import and incorporate feedback. Adobe RoboHelp 8 allows technical communicators to author XHTML-compliant professional help content. The software also supports Lists and Tables, a new CSS editor, Pages and Templates, and a new search functionality. The Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2 is immediately available in North America. Estimated street price for the suite is US$1899. FrameMaker 9, RoboHelp 8 and Captivate 4 are available as standalone products as well. Estimated street price for FrameMaker 9 and RoboHelp 8 is US$999 for each, US$799 for Captivate 4. http://www.adobe.com

Will XML Help this President?

I’m watching the inauguration activity today all day (not getting much work done) and getting caught up in the optimism and history of it all. And what does this have to do with XML you ask? It’s a stretch, but I am giddy from the festivities, so bare with me please. I think there is a big role for XML and structured technologies in this paradigm shift, albeit XML will be quietly doing it’s thing in the background as always.

In 1986, when SGML, XML‘s precursor, was being developed, I worked for the IRS in Washington. I was green, right out of college. My Boss, Bill Davis, said I should look into this SGML stuff. I did. I was hooked. It made sense. We could streamline the text applications we were developing. I helped write the first DTD in the executive branch (the first real government one was the ATOS DTD from the US Air Force, but that was developed slightly before the SGML standard was confirmed, so we always felt we were pretty close to creating the actual first official DTD in the federal government). Back then we were sending tax publications and instructions to services like CompuServe and BRS, each with their own data formats. We decided to try to adopt structured text technology and single source publishing to make data available in SGML to multiple distribution channels. And this was before the Web.  That specific system has surely been replaced, but it saved time and enabled us to improve our service to taxpayers. We thought the approach was right for many govenrment applications  and should be repeated by other agencies.

So, back to my original point. XML has replaced SGML and is now being used for many government systems including electronic submission of SEC filings, FDA applications, and for the management of many government records. XML has been mentioned as a key technology in the overhaul that is needed in the way the government operates. Obama also plans to create a cabinet level position of CTO, part of the mission of which will be to promote inter-agency cooperation through interchange of content and data between applications formatted in a common taxonomy. He also intends to preserve the open nature of the internet and its content, facilitate publishing important government information and activities on the Web in open formats, and to enhance the national information system infrastructure. Important records are being considered for standardization, such as health and medical records, as well as many other ways we interact with the government. More info on this administration’s technology plan can be found at . Sounds like a job, at least in part, for XML!

I think it is great and essential that our leaders understand the importance of smartly structured data. There is already a lot of XML expertise through the various government offices, as well as a strong spirit of corporation on which we can build. Anyone who has participated in industry schema application development, or other common vocabulary design efforts, knows how hard it is to create a “one-size-fits-all” data model. I was fortunate enough to participate briefly in the development and implementation of SPL, the Standard Product Label (see http://www.fda.gov/oc/datacouncil/spl.html) schema for FDA drug labels which are submitted to the FDA for approval before the drug product can be sold. This is a very well defined document type that has been in use for years. It still took many months and masterful consensus building to finalize this one schema. And it is just one small piece in the much larger information architecture.  It was a lot of effort from many people within and outside the government.  But now it is in place, working and being used.

So, I am bullish on XML in the government these days. It is a mature, well understood, powerful technology with wide adoption, there are many established civilian and defense  examples across the government. I think there is a very big role for XML and related technology in the aggressive, sweeping change promised by this administration. Even so, these things take time. </>

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