RE: TECHWR-L: XML as Help Format

Subject: RE: TECHWR-L: XML as Help Format
From: Katie Kearns <kkearns -at- cisco -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 11:48:22 -0700

At 11:25 AM 10/22/01 -0700, you wrote:

"Chris Knight" <cknight -at- attcanada -dot- ca> wrote:
> XML will allow us to store information in an appropriately structured way,
> then search, retrieve, and present, to both humans and computer programs,
> that information.

This is misleading. XML is only a family of markup languages. *It* won't
"search, retrieve, and present". Only applications that can parse and
process XML will do these things. I wouldn't mention this picky point, but
the rest of Chris's post may lead to misunderstanding of XML.

Right -- and a word document in and of itself doesn't do anything without Word to read it in and print it. I think the whole point is just that a different sort of interaction between programs is made possible using XML -- and that's true. The key phrase is "appropriately structured". Other formats are not appropriately structured.

Hence, to speak of WYSIWYG tools for XML doesn't
really make any sense either. The *file format* of any XML document is
ASCII. So Notepad is as much a WYSIWYG for XML as there could ever be. (The
WYSIWYG for an XHTML document is an XHTML-compatible browser or editor.)

Actually, there's a program called XMetaL Pro by softquad that is a sort of WYSIWYG program for XML.

You can customize it to do all sorts of great things, like tell it where your DTDs and stylesheets are, and it will let you edit your XML document while you see your text the way it would be displayed with the stylesheet. If that's not WYSIWYG, I don't know what is.

It allows writers to interact with XML and DTDs as if they were just writing a doc in framemaker or something. Apply your tags, and you can see how it looks. Only the tags are more useful, structurally, than just "Bullet", "Body", or "Heading".

By the way, you CAN create XML documents in Word and Frame. Just save them
as plain text. This does not involve conversion to/from XML. It is
conversion to/from ASCII, but the files are always XML.

And if you save a frame document as a MIF, it's being saved in a text format. So are GIFs. That doesn't mean you call them text files.


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