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Arbortext Introduces Epic — the Industry's First XML-Based Enterprise Software System for Information Creation and Publishing
Includes Applications Tailored for Telecommunications and Computing
BOSTON (November 9, 1998) – Arbortext, Inc., the leading provider of standards-based enterprise software for information creation, editing and publishing, today announced the release of Epic – the industry's first Extensible Markup Language (XML) based framework for the Enterprise Product Information Chain, available November 30, 1998. Epic provides a framework for integrating new capabilities with existing infrastructure, as well as functionality to meet the needs of specific vertical markets. Also announced are Epic applications for the telecommunications and computing markets with additional vertical market applications planned in 1999.
Today's global companies continue to strive for improved time-to-market to maintain their competitive advantage. However, the pace of product development depends in part on the accurate and timely flow of product information, which is often shared within groups but is ineffectively shared across groups. This is frequently due to the use of disparate tools and incompatible data formats.
"Companies in highly competitive markets can gain significant competitive advantage by enabling the friction-free flow of information throughout the enterprise and across the entire supply chain," said Bob Crowley, CEO and president, Arbortext. "Arbortext is focusing on the product information chain to help enterprises achieve dramatic improvements in time to market with new products and services."
The Enterprise Product Information Chain
The Enterprise Product Information Chain encompasses the creation, management, delivery and use of document information related to a company's products and services. Groups involved in this chain include research, engineering, technical documentation, marketing, sales, services, suppliers and customers. These groups contribute or require information for product design, manufacturing, sales, operation and servicing. Documentation for product information includes functional requirements, design specifications, product catalogs, user guides, services manuals and reference books.
Rita Knox, vice president and research director for GartnerGroup in a Strategic Analysis Report, September 1998 noted, "One of information technology's (IT's) fundamental goals – to provide faster, easier access to more information – is often frustrated because information is locked away in incompatible file formats…XML and associated standards are technologies that are fundamental to enabling documents to become interactive conduits of information between humans and machines…By year-end 1999, 20 percent of all documents (e.g. strategic plans, marketing literature, technical literature, repair manuals) will not only deliver accurate and pointed information, but carry instructions sufficient to draw inferences from them (0.7 probability)."
Knox continues, "Through year-end 2000, document processability, enabled by embedded markup, will be the most dramatic trend in corporate publishing (0.8 probability) allowing enterprises to transform documents from static data containers to powerful applications…XML standards will expand document markup and, by the first half of 2000, will exceed the use of HTML for publishing applications (0.9 probability)."
Epic's Features and Functionality
For over a decade, Arbortext has helped large organizations develop customized systems for the product information chain. To make the benefits of these custom systems available to other medium- and large-sized organizations, Arbortext has applied its best practice experience to design a framework for such systems – a framework called Epic.
Epic is an innovative solution that streamlines the product information chain by allowing document data to flow freely through a common set of tools across an integrated and automated system. This framework provides editing and publishing tools that enable authors to simultaneously collaborate on the creation, review, editing and publishing of complex documents.
Arbortext has customized Epic to bring specific product information applications to the telecommunications and computing markets. In 1999, Epic applications will be available for other manufacturing and publishing markets such as aerospace, automotive, heavy industrial, semiconductors, financial services and government sectors.
"Our organization continually strives to adopt best-of-breed products and technology so that we can stay on the cutting edge of quality solutions and support," said David Robinson, electronic marketing director, AT? "That's why we're so keen to adopt Arbortext's new Epic system, because we expect to gain significant improvements in time to market and lower costs."
Additionally, Epic's automatic formatting and delivery on multiple media reduces technical writing and support costs. Supporting both native XML and SGML, this standards-based system offers tremendous functionality, such as a hierarchical document view for easy editing and navigation, a WYSIWYG-like view that makes document structure intuitively apparent to an author, and WYSIWYG page preview to see how the final document will look in print and on the Web. Key Epic functionality includes:
Personalization – Using Epic's audience profiling capabilities, authors can easily select the appropriate audience profile for each document component such as skill level, release number, model number, and other attributes.
Automatic publishing – On the publishing front, Epic offers a powerful automatic page layout and printing system that can automatically tailor delivery to each user's profile. Its integrated suite of publishing capabilities relieves employees from manual data conversions and formatting adjustments by automatically generating multiple outputs – print, HTML files, HTML Help, CD-ROM, and the Web – all from a single document source. When publishing to the Web or CD-ROM, Epic works with standard browsers and automatically generates a table of contents for easy navigation and creates an index of key words for hyperlinking to associated terms.
Elimination of data conversion – With the product's seamless connections across departments, organizations can realize a significant reduction in data conversions.
Facilitation of feedback – Electronic review or "redlining" offers users of web browsers the ability to share written comments and replacement text electronically with the original authors, who can easily accept or reject suggested changes.
"As a leader in the medical device industry, we are glad to be working with Arbortext, the leader in XML/SGML standards. ADEPTEditor and the Epic system will provide state of the art tools for handling our manufacturing instructions," stated Mark Rutkiewicz, CRM documentation manager at Guidant. "In our applications, the accuracy, control and flexibility of information are crucial to ensure the quality of our products."
Epic's authoring client, which is based on ADEPTEditor, the leading authoring and editing tool for structured document information, offers an intuitive user interface that speeds learning and eases use. Because ADEPTEditor is easily configurable, Arbortext was able to design a product that provides the flexibility needed to tailor workflow and data structures for the unique needs of an organization. In addition, authors can leverage existing installations of Microsoft Word through Epic's built-in conversion from Word.
The product's component framework allows organizations to plug in existing software, such as authoring tools, publishing systems and document management systems, to leverage their existing investments. Epic's built-in connections to a variety of document repositories allow users to browse or search the repository and select components for insertion into the existing open document without leaving the Epic system. This makes reusing existing information even easier than cutting and pasting.
Epic produces documents in two standard industry interchange formats. For the computer and hardware and software industries, Epic supports DocBook. For the telecommunications industry, Epic exports documents in Telecommunications Interchange Markup (TIM) and publishes that information in a Telecommunications Electronic Document Delivery (TEDD) package.
Arbortext combines 12 years of SGML knowledge and experience in helping large organizations develop custom editing and publishing solutions. Long-standing partner relationships exist with IBM Global Services, Chrystal Software, Documentum, Inc., FileNET Corporation, Inso Corporation, Texcel Systems, Inc. and Xyvision, Inc. To enhance usability and increase adoption speeds of Epic, Arbortext has embedded best-in-class components delivered through strategic partnerships with Microsoft Corporation and OmniMark Technologies Corporation. Additionally, Arbortext is collaborating with best-of-breed partners including Documentum and Sherpa Corporation to ensure that Epic integrates smoothly with these partners' products. Installation and configuration services are currently provided through Arbortext's Consulting Services Group and will be available through major systems integrators by December 1998.
Pricing, Availability and Operating Environment
The initial release of Epic will run on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 and begin shipping in November 30, 1998. Support for UNIX platforms from Digital Equipment Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM and Sun Microsystems, Inc. is expected in February 1999. Pricing starts at $85,000 for an entry-level configuration that supports 65 users. Prices do not include maintenance or consulting fees.
Epic is being warmly received by its early adopters as well as existing Arbortext customers, including leading computing and telecommunications companies who are eager to leverage the XML capabilities of Epic.
Valerie Rodgers, consulting technical writer for the UNIX Software Division of Compaq Computer Corporate, noted, "As a leader in 64-bit UNIX, we've achieved real advantage by implementing an end-to-end standards-based system for creating, managing and delivering product information. It's exciting to see Arbortext be the first to deliver a complete solution."
Additional enthusiasm comes from Per-Ake Ling, technical expert, of Ericsson. "Ericsson needs to react quickly to maintain its leadership position. By using SGML/XML, our efficiency in creating product information has improved significantly. Arbortext is an important partner for implementing state-of-the-art solutions adhering to these standards. Ericsson is strongly focused on quality. Therefore, we chose Arbortext as a reliable partner with strong commitments to current and future XML standards."
"As the leading provider of network computing systems, we continuously strive to leverage leading-edge technology to speed time to market, improve quality and ensure customer loyalty," said Todd Freter, program manager, Solaris Software, Sun Microsystems, Inc. "Several years ago we adopted Arbortext's authoring and publishing software to dramatically improve productivity of our information developers. Building on these improvements, we're excited about Arbortext's new Epic initiative which promises to offer a complete solution for continued cost savings and process reductions."
According to Russ Rauhauser, distinguished member of the technical staff, Lucent Technologies, "In today's marketplace, speed and responsiveness are competitive advantages. Every second counts when your goal is first-to-market. Systems for the product information chain can make the difference." Rauhauser continued, "As a provider of telecommunications products and services to valued customers around the world, we continually incorporate customer feedback into what we do and what we deliver. Arbortext's Epic promises to ease the task of integrating existing publishing tools and help our associates collaborate more effectively during the editorial process. In Epic, we anticipate more of the same high-quality software and services we have come to expect from Arbortext."
Additional enthusiasm for Epic comes from long-standing technology partners Documentum and Microsoft.
"For years, Arbortext and Documentum have partnered to provide SGML management capabilities in a wide variety of industries," said Matt Shanahan, vice president of product marketing for Documentum. "Epic's native integration with Documentum's EDMS 98 combines XML with a common enterprise repository to capture and reuse information throughout the enterprise product information chain."
Microsoft Corp. recently demonstrated the latest XML technologies it will add to Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 and the Windows operating system, including XML 1.0, XSL, DOM and XML Namespaces. With these new technologies, Microsoft becomes the first major software vendor whose browser incorporates support for many of the latest XML specifications coming out of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). "Organizations needing to easily create vast amounts of structured documents have struggled with finding the right tool to easily manage the daunting task of creating, editing and publishing information," said David Turner, XML evangelist, Microsoft Corporation. "With Arbortext's Epic approach, authors can take full advantage of XML for structured editing, targeted search, automatic delivery and easy data reuse in a mission-critical environment."
Founded in 1982, Arbortext is the leading provider of standards-based enterprise software solutions that enable companies to share, manage and reuse vital information across the enterprise product information chain. Global 5000 organizations such as The Boeing Company, Caterpillar, Inc., Digital Equipment Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Grolier's Encyclopedia, Lockheed Martin, National Semiconductor, and Sun Microsystems, Inc., use Arbortext's products to create, deliver, and reuse information. Arbortext's customers achieve dramatic improvements in business-critical document processes to accelerate time-to-market, improve information quality, and enhance operational efficiencies. The company is headquartered in Waltham, Mass., and maintains offices in Ann Arbor, Mich., London, Paris, and Tokyo. The company has more than 150 employees worldwide.
For more information about Arbortext's products, consulting services and training programs, contact Arbortext at +1 734.997.0200, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Arbortext website located at http://www.arbortext.com.
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NOTE: Epic is a trademark of Arbortext, Inc. in the United States. Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. Sun, Sun Microsystems, and Solaris are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries. Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.