Interleaf prepares BladeRunner

May 5, 1998

Liora Alschuler

The Seybold Report on Internet Publishing
Vol. 2, No. 9
Liora Alschuler
May, 1998

BladeRunner is the code name of the Interleaf XML product that is in development and was shown for the first time at XML '98. Interleaf's re-entry into the structured editor market-it has had an SGML version of Interleaf 6, but has not promoted it or marketed it outside a few vertical markets for more than three years-is more than just an "export as XML" patch onto an existing editor. The most striking feature of the new product is the integration with the visual DTD editor Near & Far from Microstar, which is also available with the Corel WordPerfect SGML suite.

The Microstar integration gives the user a single environment in which to edit both the document and its DTD. The Near & Far graphical view of the DTD also serves as a structured view for orientation and documentation for the writer or designer. From within Interleaf, the user can select a DTD, which invokes Near & Far with that DTD in the active window. The user can edit the DTD, and the software updates the document to reflect the change to the underlying structure.

Near & Far has also done more than the minimum required to claim "XML-ness": It now has an XML DTD conversion wizard for SGML DTDs. Many of the changes required for conversion can be fully automated-changing the syntax for empty elements, for example. Other changes, such as replacement of AND content models, require some user input. At first glance, it seems that Microstar has done an admirable job of automating that which should be automated and rendering to the user that which rightly belongs in the province of user discretion.

BladeRunner also integrates FastTag, the visual recognition engine developed by Avalanche and then bought by Interleaf, which can import a styled document from a word processor format, such as RTF, and create a well-formed XML document. On export, the user has a choice of publishing options.

In the past, use of the Interleaf SGML product has been limited to selected manufacturing markets. Foy Sperring, vp of product marketing, said that with the new product Interleaf hopes to increase its presence in financial applications, a move that should be strengthened by an upcoming revision of the Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR DTD.

BladeRunner is a layered application on top of Interleaf 6 and will be available in beta form in the third quarter of 1998. Interleaf plans nt workstation and server versions, priced at approximately $2,000 and $10,000 to $15,000, respectively.