AIS enters ‘up-conversion’ market

January 10, 1998

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

AIS Software announced the January 1998 release of Balise 4.0 with an RTF input module, XML support, a DTD API, new SGML management features, persistent maps for large data sets and disk-based tree manipulation.

AIS has always positioned its Balise programming language as strong on transformation of structured text and less suited for up-translation. This has changed with the release of Balise 4.0, which includes the "RTF Scanner" for up-conversion from the Microsoft word processing format. Like the new DynaTag from Inso, RTF Scanner provides a GUI environment that scans and identifies structures in the source document. Like the Rainbow DTD used by Inso, RTF Scanner has an internal "RTF DTD" that represents formatting in a rigorous structure.

While DynaTag converts from several flavors of proprietary markup, RTF Scanner accepts only RTF. The focus on RTF, according to François Chahuneau, president of AIS Software, means that AIS can go further to support the quirks of that file format. One area of application is the large market for conversion of WinHelp files into useful HTML and XML. While users do have to program the output, no RTF pattern-matching code is required on the input side.

Balise 4.0 will come with three standard input parsers: James Clark’s SP for validating SGML and XML; a non-validating XML parser; and RTF Scanner for RTF conversion. Balise already has full Unicode support.

The DTD API is a set of functions that gives access to one or more DTDs in memory. Users can modify the DTD, run a query against it, and validate a tree or subtree. Under the old approach, users had to rely on error reporting to find and fix invalid documents. Now they can run specific queries against the schema for specific portions of the document. A query might ask "Which elements are valid here?" much like one could ask within a structured editor.

New SGML management features include the ability to specify events, such as marked sections and entity boundaries. Also new are persistent maps, large, disk-based tree structures that will not fit into memory but which require reuse during a session. Balise has always handled tree structures—now there are no limits on their size. While this release does not replicate the multiuser, shared access functions of a relational database, it does replicate some of these functions at increased speed for single users.

Targeted applications include the construction of back-of-the-book indexes and HyTime external link management where millions of links are specified. Balise 4.0 will be released for DOS; Windows 3.1, 95 and NT; and Sun, IBM, HP, SGI and DEC flavors of Unix. Pricing starts at $3,000 for a single-user PC license and $6,000 for a single user on Unix. Volume and run-time license pricing is available from AIS resellers in Europe, North America and Asia.