Newsgroups: comp.text.sgml Path: newshost.lanl.gov!ncar!gatech!howland.reston.ans.net!cs.utexas.edu!utnut! info.physics.utoronto.ca!utzoo!sq!yuri From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Yuri Rubinsky) Subject: Latest SGML Year in Review Message-ID: <1994Nov14.email@example.com> Summary: 12 months of highlights in SGML implementation Keywords: SGML application implementation publishing Organization: SoftQuad Inc., Toronto, Canada Date: Mon, 14 Nov 94 20:59:24 GMT Lines: 292 The SGML Year in Review -- 1994 By Tommie Usdin, ATLIS Consulting Group and Yuri Rubinsky, SoftQuad Inc. being the text of a speech given at the GCA SGML '94 Conference November 7, 1994 -- Tyson's Corner, Virginia, USA (C) 1994 by Yuri Rubinsky and B. Tommie Usdin This posting may be reproduced in whole or in part provided the copyright and this notice are included. In previous years, the Year in Review has been a detailed description of SGML projects, products, and events. It has chronicled major commercial implementations, industry initiatives, and software products. This year there are simply too many projects, products, and successes to discuss them all. Instead we will discuss a few highlights, and some trends. Standards DSSSL: When was that last time we talked about the year in SGML without talking about DSSSL? DSSSL, the Document Style Semantics and Specification Language, the companion to SGML for formatting and transformation, has been largely re-written, and is out for balloting. Reconciliation of comments will take place at the January 1995 meeting which has been scheduled for February. Interested parties are optimistic. [Since the SGML Conference, an SGML Open technical committee, including experts from the ISO DSSSL committee, has begun work on defining a minimal subset of the formatting part of DSSSL such as would be appropriate for online delivery including World Wide Web SGML and HTML browsers. That work will be submitted to the HTML IETF Working Group and relevant lists for discussion.] Conformance Testing : International Standard ISO/IEC 13673, Conformance Testing for Standard Generalized Markup Language has been approved and is being prepared for publication. ISO 13673 is based on American National Standard ANSI X3.190-1992. Another Conformance Testing note: NIST (the United States National Institute for Standards and Technology) is in the process of setting up a conformance testing process for software that claims to conform to the United States SGML Federal Information Processing Standard. STEP: In the last couple of Year in Review presentations, we have mentioned ISO 10303, the collection of standards for design and manufacture in CAD/CAM systems called STEP. Within the last six months, that community has suddenly perked up and appears headed to try to tackle the complex relationships between product data and SGML. TEI: Text Encoding Initiative has published P3, the 1,300 page TEI Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange. Years and years of work have resulted in a formal document type definition for the textual features most important to the use of electronic text in academic research. Major Initiatives Three major initiatives are out of development mode, and entering testing and implementation: DocBook, Pinnacles, and ATA. DocBook: Version 2.2 of the DocBook application for computer documentation has been released. Version 2.3, which will be relapsed soon, will be modular and parameterized for easy subsetting and extension. Pinnacles: Version 1.1 of the Pinnacles Component Information Standard for the interchange of technical information in the electronic components industry is now at the printer. PCIS is intended to facilitate the creation of electronic databooks and the interchange of reusable product data. Initial implementations are currently under development, and a rigorous testing will begin in early 1995. [The final document appeared from the printer in time to be waved about at the closing session of the conference.] The Electronic Databook initiative sponsored by the Japan Database Research committee--effectively the Japanese Pinnacles Group--is holding its second session this month and working groups have been formed. Airline: The airline industry is moving from design of interchange standards into implementation of those standards. Boeing, Airbus, Pratt & Whitney, General Electric, and Rolls Royce have programs completed or nearing completion to provide data in SGML format to customer airlines. Two airlines, Deutsche Lufthansa and United Airlines have systems for maintenance data in SGML nearing completion. Many other airline systems are in various stages of development. Pharmaceutical: The drug regulatory agencies of Canada, the United States, Sweden, Australia, and the Netherlands, are creating standardized DTDs for Chemistry (Quality) Submissions. The group first met in January, and recently completed document analysis. They have identified DTD finalization, format (style) requirements, instance markup, prototype development and demonstration as their next tasks. News: In the News Industry, an effort to create a Universal Text Format for on-line, broadcast, print, and archival news is being coordinated by a joint committee of the IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) and the NAA (Newspaper Association of America). ICADD: In Europe the work of the International Committee for Accessible Document Design has been extended. The European Commission is funding dissemination of information about the TIDE (Technology Initiative for the Disabled and Elderly) pilot projects to deliver electronic newspapers to blind people and to build a fully accessible workstation. SGML Open: SGML Open, the non-profit, international Consortium of suppliers whose products and services support SGML, reports several milestones accomplished in 1994: 1. A 20% increase in sponsor membership and the enrollment of six associate members. 2. The adoption of the Consortium's first technical resolution, which describes a standard convention for handling SGML entity references. Three Consortium members - Exoterica, James Clark, and SoftQuad - have already incorporated the entity management scheme into their software. 3. The establishment of the SGML Open WWW Server on the Internet The URL is http://www.sgmlopen.org. In addition to these major accomplishments, the consortium also formed new technical committees on the table interchange issues and SGML and the Internet; launched the first phase of its market research project; held a two and a half day, membership only event called the "SGML Open Summer Camp"; and had a significant presence at the WWW Conference in Chicago last month. Government and Commercial Singapore: One government has made an enormous commitment to SGML. The government of Singapore recently hosted the SGML Asia/Pacific conference. The Singapore Ministry of Defense announced that it will be incorporating SGML into its EDI system as a means of, for example, incorporating the text and graphics of detailed product specifications into purchase orders. Singapore media provided extensive coverage of SGML Asia- Pacific, including an article on Singapore Business Times, and interview with Charles Goldfarb in IDG's ComputerWorld Singapore, and a segment on television news describing the conference. SGML Industry News WWW: From out of the blue, there is now a new category of software products; browsers, authoring tools, databases, and spiders, all related to the World Wide Web. A number of these were on display at the vendor tabletops at SGML '94. SGML Databases: There has been talk about the need for, the requirement of, and the design of SGML database products for a few years. There are now several very interesting SGML database tools commercially available, and others under development. Microsoft: Another major main-stream software player has announced support of SGML. Microsoft's announcement of an SGML product is significant both because of their visibility in the non-SGML community, and because they seem to understand the relationship between SGML and word processing. One of the most appealing aspects of Microsoft's announcement is that they do not claim to solve the whole problem of SGML authoring with a word- processor add-on, but instead have a tool that will be useful under a particular set of circumstances for some users - I would hope, in fact, to a large number of users. Labor shortage: The SGML industry is suffering from a shortage of experienced SGML people; several companies have announced that they are recruiting at this conference, and many others are doing it a bit more quietly. Miscellany SGML on the Web: In the Miscellaneous category, and of major significance to this community, is a passing statement by Ira Goldstein, co-chair or the recent World Wide Web Conference, who, in his remarks to the assembly simply took as a given that the future of the Web would include SGML. His statement is the result of a lot of work by people who straddle both the Web and the SGML communities, in particular Dan Connolly of HAL Software, who first re- wrote the HTML guidelines as an SGML DTD; and Dave Raggett of Hewlett Packard, who is editor of the next generation of HTML, known as HTML 3.0. Within the last six months, the ad hoc group of HTML implementors who were working on formalizing HTML have been reconstituted as an Internet Engineering Task Force Working Group. Their work will be presented and we hope will be balloted and approved shortly after the next IETF meeting in December. The good news for SGML users is that any SGML software will be able to read and work with HTML. HTML in Use: The Santa Cruz Operation has announced and demonstrated an SGML-based online documentation and help system based on NCSA Mosaic. This is particularly important because it is a highly sophisticated, and successful, HTML implementation. SGML in Prison: Is tagging documents more fun than working on a chain gang? The Maximum Security Federal Women's Prison in Louisville KY is tagging documents for the Library of Congress' American Memory project. PDF as a FIPS: A newsworthy controversy erupted recently revolving around a proposal from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology to turn Adobe's proprietary (albeit published) Portable Document Format into a US Federal information Processing Standard entitled, by coincidence, a Portable Document Format. Howls from Adobe's competitors, from SGML Open, and from ICADD may have slowed down the process. HyTime Conference: The first annual HyTime conference took place this past summer in Vancouver, British Columbia to rave reviews. HyTime is clearly becoming realer and realer with two HyTime products on the market, one published and one imminent HyTime book, and with major applications under development IBM's IBMIDDOC, Electriciti de France, US DoD IETMs, and the activity of the Committee for the Application of HyTime who are creating a DTD for DTDs,' and establishing mechanisms to track licensing, copyright, security, and topic relationships within electronically published works. The CApH committee has reached consensus on the CApH base module and topic navigation module and will be publishing soon. Seybold Conference: The Seybold conferences, which have in the past concentrated on format-based publishing technologies, have included passing references to SGML for several years. This year SGML was embraced quite warmly. Yuri preached SGML on the closing panels in both March and September, the September conference included an SGML tutorial, and there were about a dozen SGML tool vendors in the exhibit hall, all of whom were very busy. Xanadu: At the Seybold conference a month ago I ran into Ted Nelson, the man who coined the word HyperText so long ago, and he admitted that he had finally figured out exactly how to use SGML with the XANADU project that he's been working on for some 30 years. No News is Big News: The big news in SGML applications is that a successful SGML application is no longer news; you have to do more than make it work to get anyone's attention. In related news; in the trade magazines now you see references to SGML with no brackets. The magazines no longer feel the need to tell their readers what SGML stands for sort of like COBOL. Award: We are grateful to Bob Glushko of Passage Systems for the final news of the year: Winner of the great headline award goes to one of the imaging newsmagazines: "SMGL ... A Widely Misunderstood Technology..." And that is the news. Thank you.