What is SGML? answers

Subject: What is SGML? answers
From: aer -at- PCSI -dot- CIRRUS -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996 16:06:00 PST

For those wanting to know more re: What's SGML ?

1.) [from a msg to ebook-list by Nick Finke]:

SGML is Standard Generalized Markup Language, ISO 8879.
It is an international standard which sets out rules for composing
systems of text markup, i.e., adding tags to ASCII text that indicate
the structure, e.g., titlepage, chapters, paragraphs, etc., in a way
that makes the text more accessible and reusable on different

Contrary to the way we usually use the term, it is not a tagging
language, but a language structure system. Consequently, one
creates a Document Type Definition which defines the particular
dialect of SGML that is being used. There are a number of these
DTD's that have been composed for different applications or
industries, such as Docbook, which is a standard for publishing
software documentation.

There are a number of good books and a lot of material on
the Web. You might try Robin Cover's SGML Web Page at

There is a good introductory document at

I also suggest you take a look at
a Whirlwind Guide to SGML Tools and Vendors.
There is also a SGML news group: comp.text.sgml.

2.) [from Liam Quin of SoftQuad]:

SGML is the result of some of the world's foremost experts
in document design, analysis and markup spending decades
working on producing something powerful enough for many uses
but simple enough to be workable. I won't say that SGML is
perfect, but it's certainly OK, and there is no better alternative
right now with any significant support.

3.) [from John Lamp, of Information Systems Group,
Dept of Comp Science, Univ. of Tasmania]:

In a nutshell - Standard Generalised Markup Language is a
platform-independent method of identifying and tagging the
structure of a document. What you then do with it is up to
you -- view, translate for output, use as document database,
automated document management. Have a look at
http://lamp.cs.utas.edu.au/net.html for some
concentrated information on this and other document-related technology.

Applications (to use the term loosely) which rely on SGML
include the World Wide Web, Microsoft's Cinemania CD-ROM,
a number of publishing houses, Boeing (technical manuals),
Panorama SGML viewer, The Tex Encoding Initiative, etc.
...it is only in the last six to twelve months that the range of SGML
tools has really started to expand. Microsoft now has SGML Author
for Word, Wordperfect 6.1 supports it, Microstar Near & Far Author
was released in November.

----end of snips-----

HTML was derived from SGML, loosely anyway, and so we
owe much to SGML whether you know what it is or not! And
chances are good we're all going to have a lot more to do with
it in the future -- SMGL is a powerful tool for publishing and/or
viewing documents across the whole spectrum of hardware
platforms and software applications that now constitute and
will continue to inform our technology-intensive culture.

Al Rubottom /\ tel: 619.535.9505, x1737
aer -at- pcsi -dot- cirrus -dot- com /\ fax: 619.541.2260

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