-=SGML=- summary

Subject: -=SGML=- summary
From: Richard Sobocinski <"Richard_G_Sobocinski%~WHC207"@CCMAIL.PNL.GOV>
Date: Tue, 2 Aug 1994 08:31:00 -0700

Sorry it's taken so long to get to this summary. Thanks to
all of you who responded. For those of you who don't know
what I'm talking about, because your server is censoring this
list for you (conspiracy!), last week I asked how many of you
currently use or are in the process of converting to SGML.

1. 40% of the respondants replied that their companies are
in the process of converting or have made serious
noises about implementing SGML in the near future (by
next year).

2. 30% of the replies appeared to be from curious
individuals (like myself), who have heard rumblings of
SGML and want to know more about it or where to turn to

3. 10% said that they or their companies have looked into
SGML and decided that the benefits did not justify the
costs. This attitude seems to apply to companies with
strictly internal documentation distribution or those
with integrated on-line documentation.

4. Of the remaining 20% was a warning that SGML conversion
is expensive and will probably take more time than
expected. One veteran of 2 SGML systems recommends
that this process not be attempted without an
experienced SGML programmer on staff. One person
expressed an interest in converting available SGML
text to plain ASCII. Another person said that she used
HTML (a subset of SGML) for fun, but not work.

Interestingly, while there does seem to be a lot of interest
in the subject, it does not appear that many Techwarriors are
currently involved in SGML. Some of you sent along requests
for me to forward any information on learning SGML. I hate
to disappoint you, but I really don't know much more than the
basic premise of SGML. I became curiouser and curioser since
witnessing the explosive growth of (SGML based) World Wide
Web. Recently, the gov't site where I work sponsored a
seminar to introduce the concepts and benefits of SGML and to
announce that gov't agencies are moving in the direction of
distributing documents in SGML format.

------========= Delete now if you are not remotely interested in

For those of you who asked, here is the brief description of
SGML - Standard Generalized Markup Language:

SGML is a non-proprietary method of formatting data. It is
usually associated with text files, but it can be applied to
databases as well. If you looked at a raw SGML file, it
would appear as ascii text with various "tags" defining
specific areas of the text. The difference between the tags
used by SGML and some of the dtp's is that the SGML tags
defines the relationship of the tagged text rather than an

For example, in a dtp environment you may tag the title of a
reference in your text to display as italicized text. In a
SGML document, you would tag the reference as a reference.
The software that you use to read the file can be configured
to display references (or any other aspect of the file) the
way YOU (the reader, not the publisher) wants them displayed.

Some of the issues that SGML is intended to address are:
Data is saved in a neutral, non-proprietary format -- no need
to convert all your data when your wordprocessor or database
software becomes obsolete.

Data is better suited for re-use. Because data is tagged by
definition and not by display attribute it can easily be
configured to do double, triple, or more duty.

Data searches can be easier and more fruitful.

There's more but I've made this long enough. Some of you
asked about tutorials or consultants. I'd like to find a
tutorial myself and have made some inquiries. When I get
applicable replies I'll post them to the list.

The consultant that ran the seminar that I attended is
W.Eliot Kimber (kimber -at- passage -dot- com). He was very informative
and has been involved with SGML for 10 years and is one of
the architects of IBM's internal SGML strategy. I am not
associated with Mr. Kimber or the co. he works for (Passage
Systems of Austin, TX). I am just passing on the name of the
only SGML consultant that I know of for those of you who

rxs459 -at- fep1 -dot- rl -dot- gov

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