XMetaL: XML Word Processing Comes into Focus

July 14, 1999

Liora Alschuler

The Seybold Report on Internet Publishing Vol. 3, No. 11

SoftQuad's XMetaL takes a good first cut at a workable interface for writers (as opposed to programmers or data-entry clerks) working with structured text. It's more than an "XML editor", a label that might be applied to products like XED, XML Spy, and Vervet that provide basic data and metadata editing functions with explicit control over XML markup. XMetaL falls into new category that you might call XML or structured word processing along with Arbortext's Adept Editor and Word Perfect SGML.

XmetaL logo

XMetaL is available for Windows platforms at $495 per user.

Find out more about XMetaL in our product guide. Have you used XMetaL? Share your opinion with us.

XMetaL is relatively inexpensive, relatively easy to set up, and relatively easy to use as a word processing tool for writers who need to produce valid documents according to established formulas. The target market for SoftQuad's XMetaL includes the traditional market for SGML editors, tech doc and integrated vertical applications. However, it should make it easier to deploy a structured editor to an off-site writer who may have little or no training in XML. Another target is editorial groups in which Microsoft Word is producing copy that will eventually be converted to XML and will need to stand up to XML validation. This includes Web sites such as the Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, where writers use a customized version of Word to produce RTF files that are converted to XML, validated, and then fed into the production system or sent back to the author for revision.

So the goal for XMetaL was to be a word processing tool for structured documents that is as easy to use as Word when customized for an individual DTD. SoftQuad, Adobe and Arbortext all have experience customizing an interface for a specific environment. Most of the successful, SGML-authoring projects utilize a dedicated editor that conforms to its document type and work requirements. In XMetaL, SoftQuad has tried to produce a tool that can be set up in two weeks by anyone with general scripting skills instead of two months by an XML consultant.