Newsgroups: comp.text.sgml
From: (Yuri Rubinsky)
Subject: Latest SGML Year in Review
Message-ID: <>
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


        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

        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

            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

            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

        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


        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

        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.