Products shown in Gmunden

By Paul Hermans

SGML BeLux, Vol. 2, N° 2

The most interesting development in the field of SGML is the emergence of real SGML databases. The products shown in Gmunden looked indeed very promising, but weren't quite ready for prime-time yet. We may have to wait till next year before we see any commercial products. For now, the spotlights went to Panorama (SoftQuad), the first full SGML-viewer for the Web.

SGML Editors

ArborText demonstrated the long awaited Windows-versions of their flagship products Adept Editor and Document Architect.

T.I.M.E LUX showed EditTIME, the first SGML editor with Unicode capabilities, giving the user the possibility to process any (combination of) language(s) in the world. The editor is especially designed for fast editing, avoiding time-consuming WYSIWYG screenformatting processes.

In Context was displaying version 2 of its editor. New features are the use of MS Excel 5 for table editing (now allowing mark-up within table cells) and better viewing and printing capabilities. There is now also a Software Development Kit available.

A new entry into the editor market is Stilo, a UK company who is developing for the Macintosh platform. Their product's strong points are: easy navigation through the document with single key strokes, an elaborate graphical display of the document structure and good integration facilities for external entities.

Grif also entered the Macintosh arena with a version of their Grif SGML Editor.

Word- and documentprocessors adapted to SGML

Until now, real SGML-editors didn't succeed in finding their way into the mainstream of document editing. Companies preferred to stick to their trusted wordprocessing tools. What we are seeing now however is the incorporation of SGML capabilities into these mainstream wordprocessing tools.

Novell showed WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows - The SGML Edition, which should be in final beta now.

Microstar, the developers of the Near & Far DTD modelling product demonstrated (also in beta) Near & Far Author, a MS Word for Windows 6.0 add-on. It supports guided authoring in Word to ensure document consistency, gives a graphical view of the document tree and imports and exports SGML.

Nice Technologies of Eric Van Herwijnen demonstrated TagWizard a similar add-on to MS Word for Windows 6.0, which has already been available for some time now.

Frame announced Framemaker + SGML, which is the successor of 'FrameBuilder', their high-end structured document editor, but which is supposed to be much more user-friendly in getting SGML in and out.

Conversion utilities

The clear trend now in conversion from legacy document formats to SGML is to convert first from the foreign format to a Rainbow-instance and to then use the Rainbow-instance for further uptranslation to your own DTD. There are Rainbow convertors in the public domain for RTF (MS Word), MIF (Framemaker) and the Interleaf format, and new user-friendly products are appearing which help in performing upconversions based on the Rainbow-format.

DynaTag from EBTis such a product, but it is primarily aimed at feeding DynaText, their browser product.

PowerPaste of ArborText is another product. But inquiries revealed that this isn't an of-the-shelf product yet, but rather is the name of an in-house customisation project.

SGML-aware databases

There has always been a great deal of controversy on the difficult relationship between SGML and existing database technologies. But 1995 should finally become the year in which real SGML databases become available. The most promising products demonstrated were: DynaBase of EBT, Astoria of XSoft, and Information Manager of Texell.

The first two products had very promising demonstrations, but aren't ready for actual use yet. Information Manager gave the most mature impression, but the user interface still needs some more work.


What was generating the most excitement at the company booths was the availability of Panorama (Pro) , a SGML viewer for viewing SGML files on the Web. Compared to conventional HTML-browsers, Panorama offers richer presentation capabilities, more powerful context-sensitive searching and enhanced linking capabilities, this all thanks to SGML and HyTime of course.

Panorama is based on the Synex ViewPort engine, the first SGML browser engine capable of reading SGML directly from any source. Panorama offers application programmers a powerful C API directly into ViewPort's C++ kernel. This is a really hot product.

InfoVision had DRUID on display, a viewer aimed at large volumes of electronic information, also capable of handling SGML.

EBT announced a new version of DynaText, to be available before the end of the year.

Belgian-Luxembourgian presence

Next to T.I.M.E LUX, was the SEMA booth. SEMA is coming back into the SGML race after a quieter period. They have become full member of "SGML Open" now and announced a series of new products built around their Mark-It tool. Their HyTime application MIPS attracted a lot of attention, even from the HyTime gurus such as Charles Goldfarb and Martin Bryan.

Fotek was showing the 3B2 SGML Publishing System.

The Web

Since HTML is a piece of cake for any true SGML specialist, most of the vendors also had Web software on display.

HTML editors on display at the show were : HotMetal Pro (SoftQuad), Spider (In Context), Symposia (Grif), WebWizard (Nice)

There were Web server solutions from EBT, from Folio, from Information Dimensions and Open Text.

Companies absent

Also interesting is the list of absent companies:

latest update: November 21 1995
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