Tallying from the show floor

January 10, 1998

Seybold Report on Internet Publishing
Vol 2, No 5
January, 1998

This was a busy and upbeat show. Naturally, Web support (and not just via XML) was an important theme: Wherever you looked, there were Web-related products. OmniMark announced a prepackaged application for Web delivery, and Web delivery vendor DataChannel announced a toolkit for programmers. SoftQuad announced a hybrid WebCD product. AIS improved its RTF to HTML conversion product. And there were many more. Even among the vendors with no specific Web-related announcements, the ability to target the Web as one form of output was a given.

Casualties on the editing front. Not all the news was good. Grif, the maker of Symposia, is in the French equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Apparently, there is some hope that portions of the human resource will be purchased or at least hired-in-bulk, retaining some of the collective expertise. Taken as part of a trend that includes the withdrawal of editing products by Microsoft, Microstar, Interleaf, NICE Technologies and InContext, the failure of Grif indicates market problems for this generation of structured editing tools. ArborText, Corel, Frame, and SoftQuad, plus the small European editors (now including Excosoft) and the specialists like Auto-Graphics, are left to carry on.

Looking at the casualties and the survivors, one would have to say that SGML editing software is not a market for the faint of heart.

New arrivals: style sheet editors. More signs that there is a teenager in the house—style and appearance are taking on a new life. We saw several new style sheet editors, some of them giving the users immediate onscreen results for real-time, interactive style editing. These include a style sheet editor bundled into DynaTag that extracts styles from unstructured input to generate structured text and style sheets as output; a stand-alone style sheet editor from Enigma; an interactive HTML style sheet editor for SGML Web publishing from AIS; Cedar from ArborText, which is not yet integrated with the Adept structured editor; and, of course, the proprietary style sheet editors available with all of the Synex Viewport-based browsers. The best known of these is SoftQuad’s Panorama, but some of the other integrators have also done interesting things with style editors.

The show also saw the release of the SGML Buyer’s Guide by Charles Goldfarb and Steve Pepper, available from Prentice-Hall Technical Publishing. At 1,200 pages, it might better be dubbed the SGML Buyer’s Encyclopedia. We will review this book in a future issue.

The most exciting and provocative new product was not shown on the floor, but we got an extensive preview of Perspecta’s SmartContent system from David Clarke, the firm’s director of product marketing, who came to the conference to announce the integration of XML and to see the new direction as much as to be seen. (See story on page 36 for details.)

There were exciting developments in two other areas: document repositories and systems for automatic page composition of SGML documents. These will be covered in the upcoming issue of our sister publication, The Seybold Report on Publishing Systems.