Timelux readies multilingual editor

November 30, 1994

Seybold Report on Publishing Systems,
Vol 24 No 6
November 30, 1994

A brand-new entrant to the SGML editor field, Timelux of Luxembourg, has been heavily involved in the journal of the European Commission. In 1990, Timelux began consulting for the Commission, which is required to publish its proceedings in nine languages. It chose SGML as the underlying technology for a new system.

In the years that followed, Timelux began writing code, using the Sema Mark-It parser as a base. Last year it wrote its own interactive parser in C++, called MarkTime, and subsequently built an editor on top of it. It is now nearly ready to offer that editor, called EditTime, as a commercial product.

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EditTime. EditTime is designed for heads-down, high-volume keyboarding. (Most of the Commission’s work is submitted in handwritten or typed manuscripts.) All of the program’s features can be driven from the keyboard, and a keyboard mapping facility is included. As a Windows application, EditTime also offers pull-down menus.

EditTime includes the MarkTime parser. Multiple documents, each with its own DTD and declaration, may be open for editing at the same time, and EditTime allows both parsed and unparsed copying of text between documents. Once a DTD, declaration and instance are read, the user has the option, when saving the document, to create binary compiled versions of these objects, which speeds processing on subsequent editing sessions.

Users have the choice of editing with or without the aid of the context-sensitive display of allowed elements. The insert, surround and rename functions can also be made context-sensitive. A tree view of the SGML structure (contained in a separate window) scrolls with the text view, providing a graphical navigation aid.

Attributes are fully supported and can be validated against the DTD (but not against external sources). Timelux is working on an API that would provide a way for EditTime to interact with other programs.

Although not in the beta release, support for SGML features such as entities, shortref, concur and subdoc is planned. The SGML link, omittag and datatag features are not supported. Marked section support is being considered.

A context-sensitive search-and-replace function is in development and slated for inclusion with the first release.

Probably the closest competitor to EditTime is the Datalogics WriterStation, which also is strong in keyboard support. However, most of the other editor vendors have been working to improve their keyboard support; we haven’t had a chance to work with enough of them firsthand to have a clear sense of how well products can be differentiated on this aspect.

Multinational flavor. One area where EditTime is different is support for multiple languages. The product is the first SGML editor to be based on Unicode, the new international standard for multibyte character sets, and it was designed from the outset to support publishing a single document in multiple European languages. Users can quickly switch character sets directly from the keyboard while typing, and EditTime displays the characters on the screen in a monospaced font. In this way, a single document can contain all of the language variations.

Although the Unicode standard is complete, character set and font support from major vendors is not yet in place, so Timelux has had to create its own character sets and screen fonts until third-party support is available. (Microsoft has put Unicode into Windows 95; by this time next year we should also see Unicode fonts.)

Users have the choice of saving documents in Unicode or single-byte character sets.

Timelux views its price, $700, as a key advantage, but in this market functionality has so far proven more of a factor for decision-making.

EditTime runs under Windows 3.1 or higher on ’486 PCs with at least 8 MB of memory. To encourage volunteers for its beta program, Timelux is currently offering beta customers the software for no charge. Those participating actively in the testing process will have the opportunity to buy the commercial release for $400.