GENUINELY INTERESTING SGML SOFTWARE

classic Classic list List threaded Threaded
1 message Options
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

GENUINELY INTERESTING SGML SOFTWARE

Robin C. Cover
The following description of DynaText is taken from information in
a press release and from (EBT) company literature.  DynaText is a
computing environment for SGML-encoded documents: it supports hypertext-
browsing, full-text searching and dynamic (stylesheet-driven) document
display based upon SGML encoding.

Robin Cover
=================================================================
Electronic Book Technologies, Inc.
One Richmond Square
Providence, RI 02906
Tel: (401) 421-9550
FAX: (401) 421-9551
Email: (UUCP) sjd@uunet!ebt-inc (Steven J. DeRose)
Email: (BITNET) el407011@brownvm (Steven J. DeRose)
Email: (Internet) [hidden email] (Louis R. Reynolds)

Product: DynaText(tm)

DynaText is a software system that allows in-house publication groups to
turn existing reference documentation into dynamic electronic books.  It
is aimed at satisfying the need to publish large-scale reference
material online, either on a network or for standalone delivery such as
found in the aircraft, government and telecommunications sectors.

Unlike other systems, DynaText accepts ISO standard SGML directly,
allowing documents prepared in most desktop publishing systems to be
input without any modification or translation.  In addition to SGML,
DynaText supports a variety of popular raster formats (such as PICT,
TIFF, Sun Raster and CCITT fax formats) to facilitate capture of
associated artwork.  The system also supports an open architecture for
integration with multi-media applications allowing sound, animation and
video supplements to be added to existing reference documents.

DynaText was specifically designed to take SGML documents from any
source and automatically produce a dynamic electronic book that can be
browsed on an X-terminal, computer workstation, or portable PC.
DynaText accepts valid SGML documents and automatically builds a dynamic
table of contents that is used as one of the primary means of navigating
through the material.  Unlike its printed counterpart, and like many
high-end outline processors, this table of contents can be expanded and
collapsed providing an appropriate level of detail for the reader.
Clicking on an item in this list automatically scrolls an associated
text view of the document to the corresponding section. Navigation and
collaborative document editing are facilitated by navigation tools such
as history logs and bookmarks.  A facilty under development allows users
to attach annotations ("sticky notes") of various kinds to documents via
imposed icons.

DynaText uses SGML element tags to automatically generate hyperlinks to
associated material such as diagrams, tables, and explicit cross
references. This allows readers to quickly reference related material
through simple mouse clicks.  DynaText is an open system that is not
bound to any specific SGML tag set, and allows users to add their own
link types/behavior through simple style sheet entries.  Electronic
style sheets are held in ascii-editable files with SGML syntax.  This
mechanism can be employed by users who want to create dynamic
multi-media documents.  Style definitions may be used to set the display
characteristics (font type, size, color) including visibility or
suppression of each SGML element.  The principle of conditional
visibility of elements (and element classes) in response to style sheets
and icon clicks permits rapid customization of electronic books where a
variety of document editions is desired.

DynaText builds a full text index of the SGML document and (unlike other
indexers that simply report occurrences within an entire document) can
report occurrences within SGML components.  Hit-list statistics for each
document section provides an unprecedented level of search precision
that enables users to find terms within the relevant sections of the
document quickly.  Wild cards and regular expressions may be used in
queries, eliminating the need for exact string matches; Boolean logic
(AND, OR) may also be specified.  The indexer supports synonym lists
that act like special purpose thesauri that enable access to information
though a variety of synonymous terms.  This feature is especially useful
in acronym-laden technical reference manuals.

The DynaText system is currently installed at a number of sites running
UNIX on the Sun/4, SPARC family of workstations and servers.  The
browser can output to any X-window display device, including low cost
X-terminals, workstations, or PCs running X windows.  The UNIX version
of the system is planned for release before the end of this calendar
year.  A PC version running under MS-Windows is planned for first
quarter of 1991.

The system is aggressively priced at  $12,500 for an indexer and a
browser that supports five simultaneous users.  Standalone prices for
the PC version of the browser will begin at $250 per machine.  Volume
discounts will be available for large end-users and VARs.

References:

"DynaText: Electronic Book Engine from EBT [Electronic Book Technologies]:
First to Handle any SGML Application." <title>Seybold Report on Publishing
Systems</> 20/2 (September 24, 1990). ISSN 0736-7260.