DynaTag Converts Proprietary Documents to SGML and XML

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August 1999

DynaTag Converts Proprietary Documents to SGML and XML


While there are many programs that convert documents to XML or SGML, DynaTag is one of the few with a graphical user interface. DynaTag is a cost effective way to take documents created in Word, FrameMaker, Interleaf, and WordPerfect and convert them to SGML and XML based on the styles assigned in the original document.

Single Sourcing

While there is no component management capability in DynaTag making it useful for single sourcing, it is useful in conjunction with other Inso products; with other products in the Dyna series, DynaTag becomes more powerful. The XML created by DynaTag can be checked into DynaBase, a content management system, and published directly to the Web for instant accessibility. Using DynaText, the same XML tagged documentation can be converted to a DynaText document and put on a CD-ROM viewable with DynaText’s browser. Using DynaWeb, the same XML content can be converted to HTML or an Adobe Postscript file.

DynaTag is also useful in conjunction with applications that offer component management but can only convert certain file formats to XML; for example, Hynet’s Directive, which only supports the conversion of Word and FrameMaker documents.

Product Overview

In preparation for conversion, styles must be consistent and named to describe their function because DynaTag uses style information assigned in the original document to create an SGML/XML stylesheet.

DynaTag projects are converted to a Rainbow file which is an intermediate format based on the original document. Documents written in Western European languages, as well as Japanese, can be converted by DynaTag. The Rainbow file is displayed in four panes. The left pane of the Rainbow file displays the styles defined in the original document, the middle pane displays the document, the right pane displays the corresponding styles defined in the SGML/XML stylesheet, and the bottom pane displays either the Input Formats, Project Mappings, Stylesheet Editor, SGML Preview, or a log of errors.

After being converted to a DynaTag project, the styles in the original document can be “automapped” to styles in the SGML/XML stylesheet. Automapping transfers the formatting information from the original document to a SGML/XML stylesheet and names the style in the stylesheet based on the style in the original document. Tables, referenced graphics, equations, and certain types of cross-referenced text can be automapped as well. Text with no style assigned to it and variant paragraph formats (text modified in some way from the original style) can be manually mapped to another style defined within the stylesheet or re-defined to its own style. Styles can be created and changed in a manner similar to the way styles are defined in FrameMaker. Styles can be assigned as “conditional mappings” based on initial-text patterns, context, and formatting.

The document, or documents, can then be appended and published into a DynaText book or converted to SGML or XML.

In conclusion, DynaTag alone has little to offer in terms of single sourcing application, but it is a powerful tool when used with other component-based management systems. DynaTag’s easy-to-use graphical user interface makes it easy for non-programmers to convert documents to SGML and XML.

Minimum System Requirements

Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0, Pentium Processor, 32 MB of RAM.

From the DynaTeam

To understand how DynaTag fits with other Inso products to offer a complete solution, we asked Information Director Michael Brown and Product Manager Chip Pettibone of Inso to respond to a few questions.

DynaTag is only one part of the Inso product line featuring DynaText, and DynaWeb; can you describe how you, or some of your clients, have used this suite of products for single sourcing information?

DynaTag creates XML from popular authoring tools and then feeds that XML to DynaWeb. DynaWeb is an electronic publishing “delivery engine” used for delivering information on CD and the Web, providing advanced searching, navigation, and viewing capabilities. DynaWeb works with SGML/XML and sends it to Web browsers in HTML. Customers can author their information once (single source), in an authoring tool such as Word, FrameMaker, or Interleaf. Their authoring tool of choice is used to produce the paper output, and then the DynaTag and DynaWeb take over for the electronic delivery. This can be done in an ongoing, automated fashion.

Explain how DynaTag and DynaWeb, together, can increase the ease and speed of publishing to the Web.

DynaTag makes it possible for non-programmers to get to XML fairly easily and quickly-and still keep authoring information in their tool of choice. DynaTag also produces “starter style sheets” for DynaWeb, so you can get large volumes of information into DynaWeb quickly. Once your information is in XML, there are many benefits.

One important benefit is the separation of the content from the display. The way information is displayed is stored separately in style sheets and templates. This means that it’s easy to change the formatting, navigation, and other look and feel parameters without having to touch all your content. You can even divide the work-with someone working on content while someone else works on refining how the content should be displayed over the Web and CD. We had one customer who had a Web site with 50,000 pages of documentation in SGML/XML. Users reported that they needed to provide a new kind of navigation. They were able to do this quickly by modifying their DynaWeb templates-they didn’t have to touch or reconvert the 50,000 pages, which would be the more usual alternative.

Another benefit is the ability to help end-users find the right information in fewer clicks. This is a major reason customers use DynaTag and DynaWeb instead of plain HTML or PDF. XML enables our products to do more sophisticated searching, as well as provide advanced navigation to find the “needle in the haystack.” More advanced customers use DynaTag in conjunction with DynaWeb to produce special logic in their XML, creating “document applications” that combine document content with application logic. This allows them to present information in context-sensitive, personalized ways.

How compatible are the Dyna products with other tools on the market? For example, can a client with an SQL database effectively integrate the rest of these products into their process?

We have open APIs and built-in database connectivity. DynaWeb has been integrated with lots of other products, including transaction systems, expert systems, databases, and Web servers. For example, with DynaWeb, you can dynamically assemble composite Web pages that combine XML content on the file system with SQL database content. Imagine a catalog page that contains product descriptions and graphics authored in Word, combined with price and availability information pulled from Oracle.

On a final note, where do you see the documentation industry going and how do these particular Inso products fit into that future?

Since we focus primarily in the manufacturing market, we see a big opportunity to tightly integrate our electronic publishing solution (DynaTag/Web) with Inso’s product data management (PDM) solution (SherpaWorks). What we are seeing is manufacturing organizations having to cope with an unprecedented amount of information. Finding that information and deploying it quickly where needed is a major challenge. The integration of these products allows customers to use SherpaWorks as the comprehensive repository for product information and then easily and conveniently publish information throughout the extended enterprise. This type of real-time information delivery can be applied throughout the manufacturing process. They can centrally store and manage all of their product information in one logical repository, track changes in that information and then quickly deploy it to wherever it is needed in their business. CIDMIconNewsletter