Re: Dynamic Document Building (long)

Subject: Re: Dynamic Document Building (long)
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1998 10:30:12 -0700

At 10:54 AM 3/11/98 -0500, Andrews, Doug wrote:
>To cut down on the size of large-ish WORD documents (100+ pp.) on our
>web site, my management has asked me to figure out a way of "building"
>documents dynamically via the web.
>+ Then some behind-the-scenes logic would "build" the document
>dynamically, culling the platform- and function-specific sections from a
>master document, based upon the user's choices on the web page.
>Our environment is NT 4.0, with an IIS 4.0 web server.
>Any insights, suggestions, or warnings would be much appreciated.

Interesting problem. Depending on your time frame and your audience,
you might consider looking into XML to address this issue. It's
really looking like the coming thing, and has the flexibility and
capability to address your situation. Assembling the bits and
pieces could take place either on the server (via a CGI script) or
on the client (either now in IE 4 with the help of some JavaScript
and Java applets, or down the road a little in other browsing
tool). Believe it or not, it's actually feasible right now.

For long term document use and reuse, I'd certainly look into
moving this direction. It's dangerously bleeding edge, but
even if it ends up NOT being the next big thing, your data
could be automatically converted into nearly any other
markup language you need, from MIF to RTF to HTML.

Additionally, a variety of tools can help you build and develop
documents. Because of the SGML heritage of XML, you've more
choices for development than for presentation, at least for


* Eric J. Ray, ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com,
* TECHWR-L Listowner, co-author _Mastering HTML 4.0_
* _HTML 4 for Dummies Quick Reference_, and others.
* RayComm, Inc., currently accepting contract inquiries.

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