Plug in SGML engine by Infrastructures for Information

September 18, 1995

Seybold Report on Publishing Systems,
Vol 25, No 2

SGML services to the desktop

September 18, 1995

Infrastructures for Information (I4I) has built an interactive SGML parser called the SGML Application Server. It is designed to embed SGML functionality into new and existing desktop software applications and to help businesses deploy SGML functionality cost-effectively across a large enterprise, even ones with hundreds or thousands of workstations.

Version 1.1 of the SGML Application Server is a toolkit that consists of dynamic link libraries for Windows and C objects for Macs and Unix systems. Its routines provide interactive SGML parsing and DTD navigation services that can be called by databases, word processors, page makeup programs or other programs.

For example, a database loading documents as binary objects could feed them first to the parser, let it extract attribute values and return to the DBMS the document for filing along with the attributes, which could be written as related meta-data into the database tables.

The product could also be used to turn a conventional word processor into an SGML-smart editor. At the upcoming Seybold San Francisco show, I4I will demonstrate its product interfaced to Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word and a Watcom database.

A few of the dozens of other services it provides include extracting entity values, getting content defined by element names, setting logical positions within a document, testing the state of attributes, expanding entities and validating SGML instances against a DTD. Access to the interactive parser and its services is at an abstract level — Word-Basic macros, 4GLs, PowerBuilder or C++, for example.

Other SGML parsers are available to programmers, but most are designed for batch validating, not for interactive services.

I4I was formed about two years ago as an SGML and database integrator. Its founder, Michel Vulpe, first became interested in multiple views of complex data while working on the massive inventory project of the Smithsonian collection in the 1970s. Since then he has worked with GEAC and SoftQuad.

The Application Server grew out of customer requirements in I4I’s integration projects. “Customers asked us how to add SGML to their desktop environment, without giving up their desktop or database applications,” said Vulpe.

Vulpe’s team built an interactive parser with which other software could interact. They priced it at $100, so that it would be affordable, even if deployed across many desktops.

The product is currently being used by a publisher of standards and in the deployment of interactive technical manuals for Army tanks. It has been prototyped for a textbook publishing application.

Right now the SGML Application Server is available directly from the developer. I4I is seeking potential resellers as well as direct customers.