Structured Editors

May 5, 1998

Liora Alschuler

The Seybold Report on Internet Publishing
Vol. 2, No. 9

Will XML make structured editing any more mainstream than it was with SGML? A trip to the XML '98 Conference in Seattle, WA, uncovered four new products and shed light on where this market is headed.

Liora Alschuler
May, 1998

Over the past two years, what had once looked like a promising crop of SGML editors has been pruned back to three major branches-Arbortext's Adept, Adobe's FrameMaker+Sgml, and SoftQuad's Author/Editor-and a few minor sprouts from European start-ups (Stilo, Timelux, etc.). The earlier attempts by Microsoft, WordPerfect and Interleaf to graft SGML functionality onto their editors failed to thrive and subsequently suffered from neglect.

But in the 12 months between the first XML conference in San Diego in March of 1997 and XML '98 this spring in Seattle, a fresh crop of tools has emerged. By our count, there are two new groups that are building editors (Xerox and the Language Technology Group of the University of Edinburgh), two brand-new entries from makers of previous editors (Interleaf and SoftQuad), and a re-entry into the market by Corel (see Vol. 2, No. 5).

Do these products constitute a trend? Will the XML editors falter on the same points that kept SGML editors out of the mainstream? Will richly tagged XML documents, like their SGML counterparts, come into being largely through a conversion process from some wysiwyg editor, or does all this activity indicate a viable new direction for the editorial market? Will there ever again be a suitable competitor to Microsoft Word? Is it possible that we will live to see a reopening of the market for writing tools?