Re: Structured HTML (was: Is it possible to single-source online in HTML?)

Subject: Re: Structured HTML (was: Is it possible to single-source online in HTML?)
From: Mark Baker <mbaker -at- OMNIMARK -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 13 May 1999 11:45:19 -0400

>If any browser manufacturer out there would support standard HTML (I'm
thinking
>particularly of the CSS standards) single-sourcing would be a lot easier
(even
>full support of CSS1 would be a help).

But because browser manufacturers don't, single sourcing is a lot more
necessary. Note that you don't have to wait for browsers to support all
these features before you start using them as an authoring standard. After
all, it will be years before all pre version 5 or 6 browsers will be out of
circulation, so it will be a long time before you can rely on every client
supporting the latest standard. Use HTML 4 and CSS for authoring now and use
an Omnimark program to translate to the version of HTML your user's browser
supports.

>CSS markup includes instructions aimed at specific media types. For
example,
>you can place markup tags for forced page breaks in the document, which are
>ignored when displayed on a screen but are honered when printed.
>
>But, since no one is supporting those tags, single-sourcing is more
difficult.
>It will involve either:
>
>a) migrating everything to SGML, and obtaining software to export from SGML
to
>your chosen media.


All you need is a format that supports the storage of information you want
to keep. As you have just pointed out, CSS does this for many cases. Why go
the SGML only to convert it into the format you want with a custom developed
program when you can as easily develop a program to converts your HTML/CSS
into the format you want.

Single sourcing (at the format level) is not about finding a common
destination format, it is about finding a common source format that you can
covert into as many destination formats as you need. Sometimes content
differentiation issues will require you to move to databases and custom
markup languages, but for format differentiation, HTML/CSS will be fine for
many cases.

---
Mark Baker
Manager, Technical Communication
OmniMark Technologies Corporation
1400 Blair Place
Gloucester, Ontario
Canada, K1J 9B8
Phone: 613-745-4242
Fax: 613-745-5560
Email mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com
Web: http://www.omnimark.com


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