SGML: comp.text.sgml FAQ

comp.text.sgml FAQ

Subject: comp.text.sgml FAQ
Date: 30 Apr 1997 22:48:56 GMT
From: (John Lamp)
Newsgroup: comp.text.sgml
---------------------------------------------------------------------- <!-- DISCLAIMER This FAQ is not compiled by John Lamp, but is maintained by David Megginson Things which I do take responsibility for can be found at --> SGML FAQ: Ten Basic Questions Author: David Megginson <> Version: $Revision: 0.5 $ Last Modified: $Date: 1997/04/20 09:55:55 $ 1) What is SGML? ANSWER: SGML stands for "Standard Generalized Markup Language" (or "Standard Goldfarb Mosher Lorie," but that's an inside joke). Essentially, SGML is a method for creating interchangeable, structured documents; with it, you can do the following: - assemble a single document from many sources (such as SGML fragments, word processor files, database queries, graphics, video clips, and real-time data from sensing instruments); - define a document structure using a special grammar called a Document Type Definition (DTD); - add markup to show the structural units in a document; and - validate that the document follows the structure that you defined in the DTD. The official definition of SGML is in the international standard ISO 8879:1986. For a list of general information on SGML, including online tutorials, see the following link at Robin Cover's SGML Web Site (next question): 2) How do I find out more about SGML applications (i.e. DTDs), projects, free tools, and related standards? ANSWER: See Robin Cover's extensive SGML web site at The site is updated almost daily (or so NetMinder tells me), and is the best source of both general and specific SGML information. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS START HERE!!! If you want to search for a specific term or keyword, you can jump straight to the URL For general questions, please feel free to post to the newsgroup comp.text.sgml, once you're certain that you cannot find the answer at Robin's or Steve Pepper's sites (for the latter, see the next question). 3) How do I find out more about free and commercial SGML software tools (such as editors, converters, formatters, and databases)? ANSWER: See Steve Pepper's excellent Whirlwind Guide to SGML Tools and Vendors at 4) Where can I buy or download a program to convert my Postscript/Word/WordPerfect legacy documents to SGML automatically? ANSWER: If you have any experience in construction, that's roughly equivalent to asking where you can rent a machine to convert bricks into a house automatically. Accept that you'll have to do some programming (and possibly a lot of manual intervention), then look at Steve Pepper's Whirlwind Guide (see above) to find some software tools that can get you started. 5) Where can I buy or download a program to convert my SGML document to HTML/RTF/Word/WordPerfect/Postscript automatically? ANSWER: You _can_ do this automatically (it's more like converting a house back to bricks), but usually not out of the box -- unless someone has already done the job for you, you will have to use a graphic interface or a programming language to tell the formatting application what the document should look like. Again, Steve Pepper's Whirlwind Guide (see above) lists some software tools that can get you started. 6) Who's using SGML? ANSWER: Government, many big industries, the military, academic research projects (big and small), and everyone who uses the World-Wide Web -- SGML consultants and developers are very busy. For a list of major SGML initiatives in government and industry (courtesy of Robin Cover), see For a list of major SGML initiatives in academia, see 7) What's the difference between SGML and HTML? ANSWER: HTML is an SGML application (a DTD and a set of processing conventions). Most HTML browsers do not support some basic SGML constructions, like arbitrary entities, but nearly all SGML authoring tools are capable of producing good HTML documents. For more information on HTML, see the HTML entry at Robin Cover's SGML Web Site, above. 8) What's the difference between SGML and XML? ANSWER: Unlike HTML, XML is not an SGML application -- instead, it's a set of simple conventions for using SGML without some of the more esoteric features. It's still SGML, though. For more information on XML, see the XML entry at Robin Cover's SGML Web Site, above. 9) Can I post job announcements to comp.text.sgml? ANSWER: Sure, if they're real and SGML-related. It's much more interesting to see job postings from the companies themselves than from head-hunters. One of the best signs of SGML's strength right now is that people often complain about too many job postings in comp.text.sgml. 10) What about X? You didn't mention it. ANSWER: Again, visit Robin Cover's and Steve Pepper's web sites (questions 2 and 3) -- they are simply the best guides to SGML information, and will tell you almost anything you want to know, from where to download a certain DTD to what tools and standards exist for producing formatted output from SGML documents. __END OF FAQ__ -- ---------------------------------------- The above is likely to refer to anecdotal evidence. ------------- --