XML?Defining Documents on the 'Net
"Since the philosophy behind XML (and SGML) is to separate content from presentation (format, color, font, geometry), it allows writers, editors, illustrators and database personnel to create pure and structured content, free from issues—like how the information will be used and presented," Trevithick says. "More and more, we need to be able to develop information content independently because increasingly these same chunks of content will be reused and reconfigured into many different pages in different media."
By developing workflows oriented around the central management of these digital chunks, or digital assets, and pouring this liquid of digital content into any one of a number of output contexts, tremendous efficiencies and new possibilities arise.
The efficiencies come, Trevithick explains, from only having to update this shared, digital content once, and having the output pages automatically generated from Internet, as well as print, templates. The new possibilities come from the fact that the publishing process is moving away from static print or Internet pages towards a dynamic, new publishing model.
Enter Dynamic Publishing
In dynamic publishing, pages are generated from a template on-the-fly, making the personalization or customization of content to a particular target audience segment—as select as an audience of one—much easier to achieve.
Cory Klatt, chief technology officer of ImageX, is very excited about XML and anticipates its widespread popularity by the end of 1998.
"We see XML as an opportunity to more closely integrate with our vendors without having to deal with the complexities of the underlying data structure of their systems," he explains.
ImageX offers a Web-based solution to its customers as well as a Web-based interface for its vendors. ImageX relies on HTML and PDF to transmit documents to and from its vendors. However, HTML and PDF, Klatt argues, do not provide a structure to transmit information regarding the data that makes up the document.