XML Authoring Tools, part 1


I’ll start out this week’s tour of XML authoring tools, with a pair of add-ons for Microsoft Word and a stand-alone application.

eXtyles Inera

eXtyles has a long track record, having been around since 2000. Its primary audience is journal publishers; over 1000 publications use it. Macros are used to normalize Word documents into standard editorial and visual styles, then content is exported to XML. eXtyles has been integrated with InDesign.

Authoring Experience
The authoring experience starts with document normalization. Macros remove unnecessary white space and formatting. Authors then apply paragraph styles from a special eXtyles palette. These styles map to a customized Word style template. Authors can also apply character-level styling to the document. Tags are represented by color coding. Authors can also use “Auto-Redact dictionaries”, which are a customized library of find-and-replace routines. When the author is done, she can export to XML (or other formats). Content can be converted to well-formed or valid XML, using any DTD. It is possible to customize eXtyles export for the needs of specific composition systems (e.g., Quark, InDesign, etc).

Integration Bits
Inera partners with RSuite (makers of the MarkLogic XML database). eXtyles SI (Server Implementation) allows you to integrate a CMS (Content Management System) and batch process Microsoft Word files. eXtyles SI can monitor and log file processing results, so the server can automatically respond to status messages reported by eXtyles.

Technical Specifications

eXtyles is comprised of software modules developed with: Visual Basic (for User Interface), VBA routines (for integration with Microsoft Word), C/C++ Cross-Processing Library (RTF bi-directional parser, inter-process communications), OmniMark Cross-Processing Library (for content processing), Perl for Auto-Redact, Data file–driven operation to facilitate easy customization

System Requirements

Microsoft Word for Windows 2000, XP, 2003, or 2007 (Word 2000 or 2003 recommended)
Microsoft Windows or Vista (Windows 2000 or XP recommended)

Misc
Math can be set in MathType, and exported to MathML.
Inera doesn’t offer a demo version for download, but online demos can be scheduled.

If it were a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor it would be…
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

XPress Author Invision/Quark

XPress Author was developed by In.vision, and acquired by Quark to be part of their Dynamic Publishing Solution. It exists as a C# add-in for Word, that maps content to any DTD or schema. Interstingly, you can configure, non-linear mapping of element classes to anything in the Word GUI. In other words, any Word tool or command can be made into an XML tagging tool. XPress Author is contextually-aware. It automatically creates mandatory child or parent elements, and moves the user’s cursor into the proper element. Metadata features include pre-filling (based on templates), inheritance, dynamic roll-up from element to document. Supports offline users. Supports drag-and drop from a CMS.

Authoring Experience

XML is completely hidden from the author. All XML functions, including element and attribute entry, are replaced with Word features. XPress Author maps XML schema rules to the content that is being authored in Word, so that keystrokes, mouse clicks, and menu choices can trigger XML functions. XPress Author supports realtime validation to ensure that content is valid as it is authored. Tools and menu choices only function when they will create valid XML.

Integration Bits

In.vision/Quark have partnered with MarkLogic.

Technical Specifications

Microsoft C# implementation of .NET.
No macros or VBA.

System Requirements

PC Hardware: 300 megahertz or higher Intel Pentium/Celeron or compatible processor
128 megabytes (MB) of RAM or higher recommended
40 MB of available hard disk space
Windows 98 , Windows 2000 Current Service Pack, .NET Framework
Word 2000 Current Service Release, Word XP Current Service Release
in.vision/Quark is investigating Word for Mac support

Misc
Supports drag-and-drop from the browser.
Supports version control for referenced content.
No demo version publicly available.

If it were a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor it would be…
Cake Batter

ArborText Editor PTC

PC-only stand-alone application. Offers real-time validation. ArborText Editor supports any DTD or schema, but it is mainly for use with DITA. The user interface is highly customizable. It supports drag-and-drop with on-the-fly validation. Math content can be authored via math applications by Design Science (MathFlow Editor for ArborText, and MathFlow Exchange, which imports MathType and converts it to MathML). Unlike the Word add-ons, it does not attempt to hide the XML from authors, which results in a steeper learning curve.

Authoring Experience
It mainly looks and feels like (complex) word processing software, but the XML structure is not hidden. ArborText features include change tracking, dynamic spell check, multiple levels of undo/redo, cut and paste, drag-and-drop (with automatic validation), keyboard macros, and dockable toolbars. It is totally configurable and customizable (users are allowed to create and/or customize dialog boxes and toolbars).

Integration Bits
Arbortext Adapters are the means to integrate Arbortext Editor with third-party systems. The Editor can be used alone or it can be a component of PTC’s Dynamic Publishing System (DPS). In a DPS implementation, the Arbortext Publishing Engine takes XML content from Windchill and Arbortext Content Manager, assembles content for various publications, and publishes it to PDF. With Arbortext Styler, designers can create XSL stylesheets without having to learn XSL, for output to HTML, PDF, or Word.

System Requirements

Arbortext 5.4 will require ­Documentum 5.3 or 6.0.
Windows Server 2003 and Windows ­Server 2008. Windows 2000 not supported.

Misc
Design Science offers three MathFlow applications for working with math in ArborText. MathFlow Editor for ArborText is a WYSIWYG MathML equation editor. MathFlow Composer outputs math content for PDF and Web. MathFlow Exchange  converts Word documents with equations (MathType, Equation Editor), into XML+MathML.

If it were a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor it would be…
Coffee Heath Bar Crunch

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