[Mirrored from: http://www.microstar.com/msgml/w-paper.html], November 13, 1996




Welcome to Microstar!


White Paper:
Mainstream SGML
for Content Management

SGML Background

A corporation's documents form an integral part of its critical knowledge base. Document sets are significant corporate assets and the widespread use of electronic documents has deepened the asset base and made it more difficult to manage.

The Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), an ISO standard which provides the specification for describing and enforcing a document's structure, was developed to provide a standards-based way to represent data in an exchangeable format. SGML document management solutions capitalize on the knowledge of document structure to provide access, control, distribution and archiving of documents.

SGML-based documents separate a document (e.g., memos, reports, manuals) into three components: structure, content and formatting, each controlled independently of one another. As a result, a structure, which is similar to an outline, can be reused as often as needed to build new documents.

Because SGML-based documents separate the formatting of information, a single document can have different formats for different purposes. One formatting specification could govern paper printing, another to control formatting of on-screen display or CD-ROM publishing.

As an open, international information management standard, SGML provides true hardware and software independence and enables the easy exchange of documents across systems, departments and industries, reducing business costs and increasing productivity.

When an SGML-based document adheres to the structure defined by its Document Type Definition (DTD), or document model, it is complete, accurate and created right the first time. Industries worldwide have implemented SGML as the standard with which they manage the content in their documents.

Traditional Document Container Management

The future of a business can depend on how it manages and uses its corporate information. Document management systems based on SGML enable businesses to leverage their corporate information efficiently and cost effectively and to improve information access, sharing, management and distribution. Business benefits of document management include faster product time-to-market, reduced costs, and consistent, up to date information.

Document management systems have done a good job of managing documents as files or containers for print publishing. But now, businesses need more than a document management system can deliver. The emergence of the World Wide Web has driven the need for managing document content. The World Wide Web is responsible for the demand by businesses for effective, efficient ways to reuse, republish and manage the most valuable part of their documents -- the content. Content management in which document elements in their various forms such as text, graphics, sound and video are managed and distributed, is the next evolution of document or container management systems.

Mainstream SGML for Content Management

SGML remains the best technology for facilitating content management at a fine level of granularity, but for the majority of businesses, it has been too complex and expensive to use. Adopting SGML traditionally meant investing in training to teach authors who had formerly been using a word processor, how to create documents based on native SGML applications. This generally involved tagging, a time-consuming process that yielded a slow return on investment. Mainstream SGML provides an alternative to costly, complex native SGML authoring tools and SGML-focused or dedicated SGML document management systems.

Mainstream SGML for content management uses practical SGML functionality that promotes the straightforward implementation of SGML. Mainstream SGML is not another standard. It's an open architecture based on partnerships, which removes the barriers to widespread use of SGML and enables authors to create documents in their familiar word processor environment.

Mainstream SGML delivers the benefits of SGML-based document management: document reuse, sharing and repurposing, protection of current investments in corporate information and technology, and multiple output formats, plus content management, without the pain of learning SGML syntax.

Traditionally, an organization that considered adopting SGML was confronted with the need to support an industry-defined document model that may or may not have supported the organization's information requirements. In addition, these DTDs are typically very complex and are not what authors are accustomed to using when creating documents.

Because industry-standard DTDs are often too complex or too general for most users, Mainstream SGML offers document models oriented to the author, rather than the author's computer.

Mainstream SGML Architecture

The Mainstream SGML architecture begins with an author-centered interface such as, Microstar's Near & Far® Author, Corel® WordPerfect® SGML Edition, or Microsoft® SGML Author for Word. Mainstream SGML is inherently flexible and easy to use because of elements like the human-tuned, graphical interface for document creation and customized authoring models for a variety of applications. A word processor-based document can be exported to SGML with the push of a button, and published to paper or the Web. Mainstream SGML users obtain the benefits of SGML's functionality, without needing to learn SGML syntax.

Publishing scripts provide the instructions on how the document must change to be suitable for a particular output requirement: HTML, industry standard DTD for interchange, paper or CD ROM. Publishing is a downstream process and is removed from authors' hands whether it is done through a publishing application or specialized transform engine.

The foundation for the Mainstream SGML architecture is a mainstream compound document management system. Mainstream SGML's architecture integrates with document management systems, to store, manage, and distribute word processor-based files or other files, as Web or printed pages. The right document management system manages the instances, the maps and the various authoring models and will ultimately generate the target document, whether it is an industry-standard DTD, web pages or printed pages.

Mainstream SGML gives authors an evolutionary path to follow from document creation application, to Mainstream SGML, to traditional SGML. Using Mainstream SGML, the majority of internal business processing can be performed by managing document content and using a user-centered DTD.


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