Arbortext Eyes the Enterprise

November 9, 1998

Mark Walter

In a bid to become more of a full-system supplier, Arbortext, known for its SGML/XML authoring and composition software, has introduced EPIC, a package of software and services for implementing XML-based publishing solutions at the enterprise level. EPIC, which stands for Enterprise Product Information Chain, is targeted at product-support documents, especially user guides, data sheets, service bulletins, reference books, and assorted documentation that accompany complex products.

The first two vertical EPIC packages are for the telecommunications and computer hardware and software manufacturing industries. We haven't had a chance yet to see what steps Arbortext has taken to make the standard DTDs—TIM and DocBook—attractive for authoring.

EPIC matches Arbortext's structured authoring tool (the Adept editor) with a choice of repositories—Documentum, Poet, or Sherpa's configuration-management system—connected through Arbortext's Willow API. To streamline the process of implementing an XML-based system, Arbortext is offering several prebuilt modules. One facilitates review-and-approval, using either Adept or a Web browser; another customizes Web output based on visitor profiles.

The composition engine of the companion product, Adept Publisher, is used to create printed output. CD-ROM and Web publications are spun from the same source, often using Omnimark software to make the conversions.

The idea with EPIC is for Arbortext to provide installation, integration, and support for customers who prefer to work with one vendor rather than contract an independent integrator or take responsibility for integration themselves. The first EPIC customers include AT&T's services organization and Guidant, a manufacturer of medical devices. Commercial availability is slated for November 30, 1998.