Skip to main content
Conferences

XML 2006: Day Two Keynote

Darin McBeath of Reed Elsevier spoke on Unleashing the Power of XML. He had a very interesting survey that was conducted across the organization (I think).

The biggest challenges for publishers?

  • Migration of existing content
  • Training

Main weaknesses of XML?

  • Namespaces
  • Schema is too complex
  • Everyone can do it

He had some data showing that XQuery is gaining in popularity, both at the conference and in general technical discussions.

Finally, a list of why XML is important to publishers:

Several of these warrant entire presentations.

Key phrase: mind the gap. Pay attention to the chasm between the programmers and the content creators. (see my previous post)

Great keynote — a nice big-picture overview, which is exactly what a keynote needs to do.

Read More
Conferences

XML 2006: Scribus non grata

When presenters at this conference mentioned content creators, their attitudes ranged from dismissive to contemptuous. “Stupid authors” seems to be the universal undercurrent. Authors complain about XML-based publishing systems, authors whine whenever something minor changes, authors don’t understand the glories of XML, and so on.

Perhaps the presenters have forgotten that without authors, there are no documents?

Read More
Conferences

XML 2006: XML, InCopy, and InDesign

Summary: There is no magic bullet.

The presenter spoke about an inherent conflict between structured content and desktop publishing. That’s an interesting way of phrasing it that I hadn’t seen before.

There are several ways to work with XML and InDesign:

  • InDesign Exchange format (INX): The INX exchange format produces 18,000 lines of XML for a four-page InDesign document. Hehe.
  • Adobe Tagged Text: It’s not XML, but it’s tagged, and might get you started.
  • Manual or semi-automated tagging: reasonable features, but well…manual

This is followed by a lengthy demo of the InDesign XML features. If you need details, try the InDesign and XML Technical Reference white paper (which I wrote a while ago).

Read More
Conferences

XML for Magazines

Peter Meirs from Time, Inc. They produce their published layouts, then convert the content to PRISM XML, a “standard XML metadata vocabulary for the publishing industry.”

The first presentation today in which XML is clearly an intermediate format, rather than the storage format.

I missed the introduction, so I don’t know whether they explained this. Presumably, they are not ready to make their authors and publishers work in XML editors. Obviously, XML editors won’t support highly designed magazines, but I wonder whether it isn’t possible to create articles and other content in XML and then flow them into Quark or InDesign to produce the magazines.

Read More
Conferences

Panel, part III

Clyde Hatter of Propylon discusses OpenOffice and XML.

“Most normal people–which includes nobody in this room–would rather eat a plate of broccoli than use an XML editor.”

I like him already.

OpenOffice looks sort of like a modern version of Ventura Publisher, he says.

OpenOffice is in fact an XML editor with a fixed DTD.

“Structured documents can be produced via disciplined use of styles.” Well, yes. But isn’t that the case for any application?

Ah. Constrain OpenOffice further and end up with something that does let you produce useful XML. His case study is the Parliamentary Workbench used by the Irish Parliament. Highlights:

  • Style options are constrained and arranged in palettes.
  • OpenOffice documents are transformed into LegislationML.
  • Legislation is complex because the data model is 700 years old. Hehe.

Read More
Conferences

Panel, continued

Mark Jacobson of Really Strategies launches into the Word part of the session.

He describes WordML as “a better source to convert Word to XML.” In other words, the WordML is now a reasonable starting point to produce actually useful XML.

“Word-based” XML environments often involve post-processing steps in a real XML editor downstream to clean up the problems that are too difficult to resolve in Word.

The decision to look at Word and XML depends on:

  • Editorial workflow
  • Degree of influence that you have over authors
  • Complexity of requirements
  • One-off content versus maintained content

Read More
Conferences

XML 2006 panel: Word and OpenOffice for XML authoring

“People have a need to control formatting” says Jon Parsons, of XyEnterprise.

A high-energy, fast-paced walkthrough of word processors versus XML authoring.

And then, the money slide…why put them together?

  • Business needs meet corporate culture
  • People dislike change
  • Technology takes a while but also makes things possible
  • If you win the users, you will win with XML content

So far, he has by far the best presentation skills. And some good content, too.

Read More
Conferences

ODF plug-in, continued…

The idea is to get to round-tripping between Word and OpenOffice/ODF. Currently, round-tripping is “poor.”

Youch. The questions are brutal. The presenter made the mistake of focusing more on Microsoft-bashing and politics and is now being reeled in with questions that start like this, “Aside from the political rants, please tell me…”

The ODF format is being justified by the “100-year” issue; state governments are concerned about being able to access their content for the next 100 years.

The plug-in is also intended to help with migration from Word to OpenOffice.

Providing the plug-in removes Microsoft’s argument for submitting Word XML as another standard.

What about batch conversions? “They are not a good idea.” Whaaaa? “Because you can’t predict which documents will have problems.”

One interesting tidbit. All Microsoft formats apparently use RTF at some point. That provides a choke point of sorts that you can use as a jumping-off point.

Read More
Conferences

XML 2006: The ODF Plugin for MS Office

Presentation tip: Don’t read your presentation.

Having said that, the presenter just compared the document debate to Star Wars…with an empire and forces of light. He left it to the attendee to figure out whether Microsoft or the OpenDocument Foundation represents the Empire.

The OpenDocument Foundation has an ODF plugin for Microsoft Office. A 6MB download, it allows you to output ODF format from Microsoft Word. I think.

Read More