Collaborative Tools Shine At Seybold San Francisco ’97

November 20, 1997

Seybold Report on Internet Publishing
Vol 2, No 3

EVEN MORE THAN it has in the past, this year’s Seybold San Francisco represented the wide diversity of publishing technology in the market today and coming in the near future. This year, the trend was clearly toward the maturation of the new technologies. XML is the logical extension of HTML, while PDF is becoming more entrenched as a secure way to distribute preformatted content. Authoring tools are beginning to support workgroup publishing, and content management is being accepted as a vital part of running a contemporary Web site.

A roundup of systems and software

In the following pages, we’ll highlight technology developments along the following themes:

XML arrives. Seybold San Francisco ’97 will be remembered as the first major conference and trade show where XML entered the mainstream vocabulary. It was the buzz of the conference and a draw on the show floor. The demo of XML support in Internet Explorer 4 was one of the highlights of Bill Gates’s keynote address on Wednesday.

Since the event, the W3C has published a draft of the Resource Description Framework (RDF), the first XML application that both Netscape and Microsoft have pledged to support. In light of the news, we suggest a few steps that publishers can take now to prepare themselves for the changes XML will bring.

Web publishing systems mature. As Web sites mature into full-fledged commercial publishing ventures, the need for robust systems to support them is becoming a very interesting market opportunity. In fact, it is evolving into one with several segments, with no one vendor yet dominating any of them. Our coverage is broken down into three categories: document sharing, repositories and Web content management systems, with some explanation of what to look for when evaluating these products. Among the highlights from the show floor is our first look at Zuno Digital Publisher, a high-end system from a well-funded start-up.

The PDF explosion. Most everyone agrees that the ideal electronic document-delivery format is probably not a static snapshot of how a document will print. Yet, support for PDF keeps mounting. The limitations of HTML compared with page formatting, the variance in display of the same page among different Web browsers and the ease of making PDF are all factors in Acrobat’s favor. The PDF Pavilion at Seybold San Francisco was a good place to catch up on the latest Acrobat plug-ins, including new ones from The Blue Team and Infodata.

The Java alternative. The alternatives to Acrobat that show most promise are Java-based viewers. They take much less footprint on the client side, and they don’t require users to preinstall Adobe Type Manager. But these systems have some maturing to do before they will be serious challengers. J-Stream and Net-It Software showed the latest versions of their software and provided status reports.