Hynet Directive 2.0 Offers Component-Management Capabilities for Information Developers

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CIDM

February 1999


Hynet Directive 2.0 Offers Component-Management Capabilities for Information Developers


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Hynet Technologies announced on February 1, 1999, the latest edition of its electronic information management and distribution software, Directive 2.0. The software should attract the attention of publications organizations that hope to publish custom information on the web from a single source. Directive is already being used by Hewlett-Packard’s network operating system group and has just been adopted by Standard and Poor’s to convert financial articles from Microsoft Word to SGML for Internet viewing. The software allows us to transform static documents into reusable components and then publish them through the Internet, Intranets, and on CD-ROM.

Here’s what Hynet said about itself in a recent news release (August 1998): “The new functionality in Directive 2.0 will provide companies with a significant, almost immediate return on investment through reduced operational costs, increased productivity and efficiency, and improved customer service. Hynet’s strategic use of XML enables information from within multiple documents and word processing applications to be reused and republished, saving the time and resources associated with customizing information to meet end-user requirements or re-creating similar content throughout various departments of an organization. And the ability to publish customized, automatically updated versions to the Internet, intra/extranet, CD-ROM and paper from one source file saves costs and improves customer service by providing up-to-date information that is tailored to meet end-user needs. Directive intends in the 3.0 release later in 1999 to

[allow end users] to create their own individual knowledge libraries with no more than a web browser-a significant step toward improving corporate-wide knowledge sharing.”

Features

Hynet Directive 2.0 includes a number of features that should prove useful to information-development managers:

  • authoring environment. With version 2.0 of Directive, your staff can author in Adobe FrameMaker and Microsoft Word; in version 2.5, they will add Quark. No changes in the authoring environment are required (no SGML coding) but the more structured the document, the more reusable the individual components.
  • granularity. Directive lets you designate the level of granularity you want in your project, from chapter, section, heading level, and paragraph, table, or graphic. Directive builds a tree structure that reflects your choice of granularity.
  • output environment. Directive takes your original documents and translates them in XML and stores them in a database (Oracle or other standards databases). Then you can output the documents as HTML, XML, SGML, and Hynet’s own Digital books (enhanced HTML) in version 2.0. In version 2.5, PDF and postscript outputs will also be possible.
  • version-tracking. Hynet provides version tracking at the information unit level, not just the source file level as most document management systems (DMS) do.

Benefits For Publication Managers

At present, Hynet Directive is most powerful at allowing you to build an XML database of components of your documents and then publish derivative documents that mix and match paragraphs, graphics, tables, or sections and chapters of the original documents into new documents. For example, you may have a reference manual made up of all the commands available in your operating system. Using Directive, you can take the original Frame or Word document or multiple documents and create a tree structure in XML. Then, you can publish derivative reference manuals that have only the sections that apply to a particular customer, platform, release, and so on. Or, you could have a complete user’s guide that contains background information, overviews, and procedures. You can then create an HTML version that contains only procedures for more experienced users.

To create the highly targeted derivative documents from your original, you simply drag and drop sections of the original to create new documents. Directive automatically maintains all the original links and creates new tables of contents and indexes for each derivative document. When you drag and drop a high-level section, all its child topics come with it. If you don’t want to use all the child topics, you can delete them from the derivative document.

The plan for the 3.0 version at the end of 1999 is to provide end-users with a drag and drop capability through their web browser. They will be able to create their own custom versions of documents from your documentation library. You will be able to provide an entire library of documents, divided into chapters, sections, or paragraphs. Your end-users will be able to create their own custom set from across multiple document sources.

Directive provides a very flexible conversion process. Two transformations are involved:

First, Directive takes your standards format (MS Word, Adobe FrameMaker, and, soon, Quark) and transforms it into generic XML. It identifies heading levels, paragraph types (lists and bullets), tables, and graphics from the styles in the source files.

Then, Directive transforms generic XML into derivative formats (i.e., customized XML, HTML, and Hynet’s digital books and digital libraries-enhanced HTML). How this transformation looks depends on your custom mappings. You decide on the way you want particular tags to look in the output formats. Each output format can be different.

The conversion capabilities embedded in the Hynet Directive software are also part of a module that is available as a stand-alone command line program (from which batch-like functions can be run). This stand-alone conversion module can, for example, convert MS Word documents into SGML and can convert SGML into highly enriched HTML, generic XML, or customized XML.

Hynet Directive can also generate XSL. Because Web browsers do not yet support XSL, this capability has not yet been taken advantage of. (MS Internet Explorer supposedly will support XSL in future versions. Also, once Microsoft Office is fully compatible with XSL, end users will be able to easily create, for example, derivative PowerPoint slides from a superset of slides.)

Competitors

Chrystal, from Xerox, is the main direct competitor of Directive. Chrystal stores components rather than whole documents.

Document management systems (DMS) such as Documentum, PC Docs, Filenet, are not direct competitors. In fact, they are more complementary with Directive than competitive. Hynet is working to establish partnerships with DMS developers. DMS applications store information at the file level-BLOB (Binary Large Objects). Hynet Directive stores information at the component level.

Electronic publishing tools like Inso or Lotus’s Enigma are somewhat one dimensional. They can only convert, for example, from source to SGML or from Lotus Notes to the Web.

Lower-end capability tools like InfoAccess convert from source to HTML but are not customizable.

Web delivery is royalty free with Hynet Directive (unlike with other tools). Additionally, Hynet offers a unique pricing option that allows unlimited titles and end-user access and CD-ROM distribution. In addition to English, Directive supports four major Asian languages. (Hynet’s major funding comes from Acer Corporation.) They are discussing relationships with translation memory software developers. CIDMIconNewsletter