Re: info on DynaTag?

Subject: Re: info on DynaTag?
From: Chet Ensign <Chet_Ensign%LDS -at- NOTES -dot- WORLDCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 8 Jul 1996 09:18:14 -0500

Miki Magyar asked:
>> I've just been told that part of my new job is learning how to use
>> DynaTag (version 2.0.1) and DynaText. Any information on its strengths,
>> weaknesses, 'undocumented features', or other useful bits and pieces
>> will be greatly appreciated. Please respond to me directly. TIA -


DynaText is an electronic publishing product based on SGML. It is manufactured
by Electronic Book Technologies, located in Providence, RI. ( -- and
EBT has just recently been bought by Inso Corporation -- an interesting
development in the 'exotic documentation technology' department. But I
digress... )

Strengths of DynaText are that it runs on an enormous number of computer
platforms, and uses a construct called style sheets to associate both display
characteristics **and** behaviors with SGML element types. These are not style
sheets in the usual wp/dtp sense of the term. Rather, these are instructions
that state how the product should handle different elements when a book is
opened. I wrote an article for the Intercom March issue that explained how we
used this feature to deliver both an online manual and a context-sensitive help
system from one electronic document. The same document was displayed in
different ways to the user depending on whether it was called as a manual or
through the help system. You can also associate other programs with elements --
so, for example, you could have a graphic of a molecule and, when the reader
clicked on it, it would launch a 3-D model of the molecule in a separate
program. You can do similar tricks with other packages, of course, but the
difference here is that you don't have to build these links, etc. by hand. You
define them in the style sheet and then they are automatically applied to each
document that you add to the library.

DynaTag is a conversion package to smooth the transition from wp/dtp packages
into DynaText. It gives you a way to map style and formatting instructions to
SGML element names and generate either SGML (after a fashion) or a DynaText
book. DynaTag works with FrameMaker MIF, RTF and Interleaf ASCII.

A third add-on you may want to learn about is DynaWeb. DynaWeb uses style
sheets to automatically convert DynaText books into HTML on the fly. It is
coming in very handy as companies put existing electronic documents on the Web,
because rather than recoding all your manuals to get them on line --
prohibitively expensive -- you just write a style sheet and put it inbetween
the server and the documents. And, if you decide that the time has come to
adopt frames, for example, you don't have to go back and recode your documents
all over again -- really prohibitively expensive. You just revise the style

Biggest weaknesses of their products that the rendering is not as slick as
other products -- for example, the document doesn't scroll simultaneously while
you pull down the scroll bar -- and the pricing model is pretty steep compared
to other solutions. Especially if your documents change frequently. (Of course,
this may change under the new management.)

Best regards,


Chet Ensign
Logical Design Solutions
465 South Street
Morristown, NJ 07960 censign -at- lds -dot- com [email]
201-971-0100 [Phone] 201-971-0103 [FAX]

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