XML Authoring Tools, part 3

Serna Syntext

Serna Enterprise is a customizable, multi-platform, XSL-driven XML content editor.

Authoring Experience

Serna Enterprise provides authors with familiar word-processing features  (editing text and tables, cut and paste, multiple undo levels, spell checking, intuitive toolbars, etc) combined with XML efficiency features (drag-and-drop with on-the-fly validation, context-sensitive element help and insertion, metadata templates). The XSL-driven user interface can be customized for particular tasks or document types right from the user interface without the need for scripts. It offers dynamic rendering/output preview of multi-source documents with XSLT/XSL-FO stylesheets.
Strong support for DITA and DocBook. Basic MathML support. Uses document templates for automatic metadata and structure.

Integration Bits

Customizations can be made with Python scripting and C++ APIs for integration with CMS and publishing systems, and for implementation of database and repository access.  Integrated with publishing engines (Antenna House, RenderX, FOP).

System Requirements

Macintosh: OS X 10.4 or higher; G4 or higher
PC: Windows™ 2000/XP/Vista Processor: Pentium II, 350MHz or higher for i386
RAM: 512 MB
Minimum disk space: 150 MB


30-day trial version is available.
Pretty cheap: $109 US per license when purchased with maintenance. Both Mac and PC covered by one license.
If it were a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor it would be…

Peanut Butter Cup

PageSeeder Weborganic

PageSeeder is a comprehensive, web-based, collaborative platform. It does not exist as an independent ­XML authoring tool.

Authoring Experience

PageSeeder started 10 years ago as a document review and annotation tool (the “seeds” were small buttons to click to comment). Authoring capability was added later. A PageSeeder Group is a secure collection of documents and comments. Groups also have members of varying permissions, who can log on to the appropriate PageSeeder group and upload, create, or edit files. The Document Editing tools allow multiple versions of a document to be browsed, commented on, and edited, depending on the user’s access rights.


The full workflow allows document creation and revision, review and annotation, cross-referencing, assembly, validation, and conversion (to XML, PDF, RTF, HTML). It offers version management with track changes, and document variations. Multiple users can simultaneously work on a document without overwriting each other. PageSeeder also offers document status handling, access logging and status reports. It allows tasks to be initiated through a variety of manual or automatic means. Tasks are fully integrated with email and available through an API with configurable statuses.

Integration Bits

Documents can come from databases, file systems or 3rd party content management systems, and integrate with any XML processing application like Adobe InDesign (replacing InCopy), Quark Server, Adobe Flash, Apache FOP and Office.

System Requirements

Server Minimum Requirements: Windows NT/2000/XP Server or Linux/UNIX Server with JDK 1.6, 1 GHz Processor, 1GB RAM, 200MB Hard Disk Storage
One of the following databases: SQL Server 2000 or 2005, Oracle 11, MySQL 5
Client Minimum Requirements: ­Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 2


Comes in hosted or install versions. Licensing is based on a per-project pricing model.
Unclear how you could do math with it.
Public demo is available on Weborganic.com. A 30-day evaluation, with a full running version of the software for a private group is available on request.

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

Strawberry Kiwi Swirl

PowerXEditor Aptara

Developed as an in-house tool by Aptara for their copyediting business, and now sold as an application, PowerXEditor is a cross-platform and cross-browser authoring tool.

Authoring Experience

Authors experience Word-plus-XML in the browser, so there is almost no learning curve. User interface is customizable. Author files are normalized according to style rules. Provides conversion and mapping directly to a client-specified DTD (through customization). Authors are not exposed to XML, but most functions that would result in invalid XML are disallowed (adding a text box, limiting the copy-and-paste function to plain text).


After the content has been approved, it is published and the XML is only then validated. Minor anomalies are fixed in an automated process by the software. Aptara technicians intervene in the remaining cases where a rule cannot be resolved by the application, as part of the customer support services offered in the standard support package.
The workflow is configured by Aptara, with certain functions remaining configurable by the administrator. Other settings are controlled directly by the CMS PowerXEditor is hooked into.
Part of the Aptara PowerSuite along with other modules, PowerReview, PowerTrack, PowerProof, and PowerQA. PowerSuite offers version control of documents, and a customizable content workflow management system, with notifications and reports.

Integration Bits

PowerXEditor works both as a primary content development system and in combination with other information development tools. PowerXEditor feeds high-end composition from InDesign and Quark to LaTeX

System Requirements

Browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox


Built on a .NET framework with Ajax and Java.
No publicly-available demo version
Has a built-in Math Type Editor.

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

Karamel Sutra


One Response

  1. Please note, that Syntext Serna is a Free XML Editor. It is also available in paid version with Enterprise-oriented features.

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