Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Month: October 2010 (Page 2 of 2)

What’s Hot in XML? Workshop on Smart Content Describes Leading-Edge Content Applications

What is hot in XML these days? I have been to a few conferences and meetings, talked with many clients, participated in various research projects, and developed case studies on emerging approaches to XML adoption. DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) is hot. Semantically enriched XML is hot. Both enable some interesting functionality for content delivered via print, on the web, and through mobile delivery channels. These include dynamic assembly of content organized into a variety of forms for custom uses, improved search and discovery of content, content interoperability across platforms, and distributed collaboration in creating and managing content.

On November 30, prior to the Gilbane Conference in Boston, Geoff Bock and I will be holding our 3rd workshop on Smart Content which is how we refer to semantically enriched, modular content (it’s easier to say). In the seminar we will discuss what makes content smart, how it is being developed and deployed in several organizations, and dive into some technical details on DITA and semantic enrichment.  This highly interactive seminar has been well received in prior sessions, and will be updated with our recently completed research findings.  More information on the seminar is available at  http://gilbaneboston.com/10/workshops.html.

By the way, t The research report, entitled Smart Content in the Enterprise, is now available at the research section at Gilbane.com. It (now available from Outsell Inc) includes several interesting case studies from a variety of organizations, and a lot of good information for those considering taking their content to the next level. We encourage you to download it (it is free). I also hope to see you in Boston at the workshop.

The Pull of Content Value

Traditionally, publishing is a pushy process. When I have something to say, I write it down. Perhaps I revise it, check with colleagues, and verify my facts with appropriate authorities. Then I publish it, and move on to the next thing – without directly interacting with my audience and stakeholders. Whether I distribute the content electronically or in a hard copy format, I leave it to my readers to determine the value of whatever I publish.

However, as we describe in our recently completed report Smart Content in the Enterprise, XML applications can transform this conventional publishing paradigm. By smart content, we mean content that is granular at the appropriate level, semantically rich, useful across applications, and meaningful for collaborative interaction.

From a business perspective, smart content adds value to published information in new and compelling ways. Let’s consider the experiences of NetApp and Warrior Gateway, two of the organizations featured in our report.

NetApp
As a provider of storage and data management solutions, NetApp has invested a lot of time and effort embracing DITA and restructuring its technical documentation. By systematically tagging and managing content components, and by focusing on the underlying content development processes, writers and editors can keep up with the pace of product releases.

But there is more to this publishing process orientation. Beyond simply producing product information faster and cheaper, NetApp is poised to make publishing better. The company can now easily support its reseller partners by providing them with the DITA tagged content that they can directly incorporate into their own OEM solutions. Resellers’ customers get just the information they need, directly from the source. With its XML application, NetApp incorporates its partners and stakeholders into its information value chain.

Warrior Gateway
As a content aggregator, Warrior Gateway collects, organizes, enriches, and redistributes content about a wide range of health, welfare, and veteran-related services to soldiers, veterans, and their families. Rather than simply compiling an online catalog of service providers’ listings, Warrior Gateway restructures the content that government, military, and local organizations produce, and enriches it by adding veteran-related categories and other information. Furthermore, Warrior Gateway adds a social dimension by encouraging contributions from veterans and family members.

Once stored within the XML application powering Warrior Gateway, the content is easily reorganized and reclassified to provide the veterans’ perspective about areas of interest and importance. Volunteers working with Warrior Gateway can add new categories when necessary. Service providers can claim their profile and improve their own data details. Even the public users can contribute to content to the gateway, a crowd sourcing strategy to efficiently collect feedback from users. With contributions from multiple stakeholders, the published listings can be enriched over time without requiring a large internal staff to add the extra information.

Capturing New Business Value
There’s a lot more detail about how the XML applications work in our case studies – I recommend that you check them out.

What I find intriguing is the range of promising and potentially profitable business models engendered by smart content.  Enterprise publishers have new options and can go beyond simply pushing content through a publishing process. Now they can build on their investments, and capture the pull of content value.

Across Systems and IAI Establish Joint Venture in Authoring Assistance

Across Systems and the Institute of the Society for the Promotion of Applied Information Sciences at the University of the Saarland (IAI) have established Congree Language Technologies as a joint venture. Congree aims to be a leading supplier of technology solutions for authoring assistance. Congree will deliver integrated solutions for the formulation of consistent document texts, taking into account defined style rules and corporate wording. Congree’s products combine the various technologies available in the area of authoring assistance into integrated solutions. Essential elements include a terminology system for unifying word selection, an authoring memory for re-using complete formulations and text segments, and components for rule-based quality checking. The rule-based methods include grammar and spell-checking as well as adherence to company-specific style guides to provide controlled language. Congree technology can be used with all common source text editors, from MS Word, MS PowerPoint, and MS Excel, to Adobe FrameMaker, Just XMetaL, and PTC Arbortext, on through to Adobe InDesign and Madcap Flare. It can be used in real time, during text processing, or as a batch process for the subsequent quality-checking of completed content. Congree’s products are available in various configurations, scalable from a single workstation license up to client/server-based enterprise solutions. Bundled expertise With the establishment of Congree Language Technologies, Across and the IAI are bundling their previous activities in authoring assistance. http://www.across.net

Rivet Software Launches Crossfire 3.0 for Financial Communications

Rivet Software, the premier provider of standards-based business reporting and analytics, announced the release of Crossfire 3.0, an enhanced software platform that simplifies the process of SEC financial filings by managing the complicated preparation and review processes. Crossfire uses eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) technology to control document progression and centralize reviewers’ comments. Crossfire 3.0 is a standards-based reporting platform that specializes in internal and external financial reporting and analytics. Based on an XBRL framework, Crossfire 3.0 simplifies the user experience by eliminating the file management issue. Rivet’s integrated solution allows its customers to control the financial reporting cycle and comply with all SEC filing needs. Crossfire 3.0 includes an integrated Reviewer’s Guide that allows preparers and reviewers to closely collaborate across multiple iterations as the filing progresses from inception to completion. With this guide, users no longer need to interact with standalone documents to review XBRL tag selections and comment information. This “single document” system streamlines the process for reviewing and approving filings in a way not previously available. Crossfire 3.0 now preserves existing tags and comments when rolling forward from one filing to the next. When new data matches an XBRL tag from the previous quarter, Crossfire recognizes the match and automatically applies the tag throughout the document. The latest release of Crossfire allows users to change XBRL-tagged data in one location and instantly apply that change to exact-matched data throughout the entire document. Crossfire 3.0 includes the ability to split the XBRL templates so a filing can be worked on by different people in parallel. Once the separate pieces are complete, a user can simply merge them back into the master file. Crossfire 3.0 is supported by Rivet’s global professional services team 24 hours a day, seven days a week. www.rivetsoftware.com

E-Reader Devices in Flux, But So What?

Repeat after us: What happens to specific devices or formats, such as Kindle or the iPad, will not be a significant factor for book publishers.

The title of this blog is taken from a sub-section heading in out Industry Forecast chapter in our just published 277-page study, A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Processes to Re-Invent Publishing, as is the quote above.

We’ve been following ebook efforts for well over a decade, and for some of us, thinking back to CD-ROM or the Gutenberg Project , the timeline is deeper yet. I mention this perhaps to excuse some of our assumptions going into the work of the Blueprint study, which was that many book publishers remained nervous about participating in ebooks because of the uncertainty about ebook formats among their potential customers, themselves, and, indeed, the market at large. We were, largely, wrong.

For one thing, a good part of book publishers—even trade—are already working with XML.  Here’s a quote from the new study:

There will remain plenty of help for book publishers to deal with the format flux, and, as book publishers move more completely into digital workflow—and especially grow in sophistication in regard to XML content format within editorial and production processes—the difficulties to meet specific output format demands will ease.

 Overall, we have come to understand that the convergence of functionality supporting enhanced ebooks among general-purpose mobile communications and computing devices, along with emerging standards for display, sale, and distribution of ebook titles, will also make platform issues for digital publishers largely moot. Recent announcements of new tablet devices, such as those by Samsung, which projects 11 million unit sales in 2011, simply expand market numbers rather than confuse markets. That is, if, as a book publisher, you handle your content in a way that can be created once and used in many ways.

To be clear (as we hope the following quote from the study is):

…book publishers should involve XML formats as early in the publishing process as possible. We are convinced ebook formats will evolve and change, and new ones will emerge. XML stands today as the one standard format that will enable publishers to best create, manage, and curate content over time. Moreover, the future will expand how XML and metadata can support strong integration among the various publishing processes within the publisher’s own work.

 As per our agreement with the sponsors of the Blueprint study, the sponsors have a 30-day exclusive distribution for the study, and Blueprint won’t be available through Gilbane.com for a few weeks yet.  We’ll be posting announcements from the study sponsors , providing download links as we get them.

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