SoftQuad takes Panorama to CD-ROM

January 10, 1998

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

SoftQuad used the occasion of the show to announce the upcoming release of Panorama CDWeb Publisher—a version of the Panorama viewer plug-in distributed on CD that links disks to updated content on the Web. When files are opened on a local drive, Panorama CDWeb calls the server, then downloads updates to a proxy server on the client. CDWeb Publisher handles SGML, HTML, and PDF files, although only SGML is viewed in Panorama. PDF requires an Acrobat license to view, and HTML uses a vanilla Web browser. Support for XML is announced, but not yet implemented.

To publishers of large information bases that would be awkward or difficult to supply whole over the Internet, CDWeb Publisher promises the best of both worlds: large-scale publishing with real-time updates. Much of the success of the announced product will depend on how well SoftQuad implements support for organizing and indexing data—requirements for CD publishing that are not always applied to Web documents. Let’s say you have a directory of resources and you create a Panorama navigator that copies each contact name into a frame for point-and-click navigation. On a casual Web page, random ordering and duplication may be forgiven—users are pleased enough to have any frame of reference. On CD, as in print, standards and expectations are higher: A good navigator would be in alphabetical order, not the order found in the text, with duplicates and inconsistencies purged.

Since its downsizing last summer, SoftQuad has released Panorama for Solaris and HP-X Unix platforms, is real-close-now (really) to shipping a Macintosh version, and has added support for Microsoft Internet Explorer to the plug-in version of the browser. The company claims that more than 400,000 Panorama licenses are in the field. CDWeb Publisher is announced for delivery at the end of this month for Windows, Unix and Macintosh platforms. If delivered as promised and with support for XML, this could be a useful addition to the family of products based on the Synex Viewport engine.