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Tools for Creating and Managing Personalized Content

by Jonathan Price, September 2001

There are several ways to create content tagged correctly in XML, then several tools for managing that content.

Here are some types of tools for creating content:

There are 3 kinds of tools for managing the content.

Traditional Authoring Tools

Criteria for an Authoring Tool

  • Creates all objects you need for search, re-use, customization, personalization

  • Output in many formats (XML, HTML, PDF)

  • Output flows into Content Management software

Microsoft Word

  • Cannot work as content authoring tool by itself

  • Styles can be translated by other software

  • XML in Word 2000 is well formed, not validated

Adobe FrameMaker (+ SGML)

  • Dominant tool in technical communication

  • Many output formats

  • Conditionals (up to a limit)

  • Boilerplate must be saved as individual files, imported by reference

  • Used with Quadralay Webworks 

  • FrameMaker + SGML does not flow into most content management software (OK for any SGML application)

  • Only works with Documentum FrameLink going into Documentum content management software


  • Builds on  Word, but editor is proprietary

  • Accepts Windows Help, HTML, XML, Word, RTF

  • Stores objects in own database,or SQL Server database

  • Controls workflow, revisions

  • Good idea of architecture, shows object list

  • Output to Word, PDF, HTML, Windows Help, Microsoft HTML Help,  Sun Java Help, Oracle Help for Java, XHTML, but no XML output yet

Fore HTML Help Pro

  • Cheap, fine for Help

  • Many levels of objects

  • Imports Word and FrameMaker files

  • Uses conditionals like FrameMaker

  • Sun Java Help, Windows HTML Help, CE Help, HTML 4, DHTML output, and well-formed XML (not validated)

eHelp's RoboHelp Enterprise

  • Popular software, lives in Word

  • Output in WinHelp, WebHelp, HTML Help,Java Help, Oracle Help for Java, but not yet XML

  • Enterprise edition allows dynamic content

  • Does not handle lots of small objects

XML Editors

Criteria for an XML Editor

  • Handles text as easily as a word processor

  • Does everything your word processor does

  • Validates structure as you go, against DTD

  • Suggests next tag

  • Offers tags in menus

  • Suggests attributes relevant to object

  • Output flows easily into Content Management Software

Arbortext Epic

  • Grizzled veteran of SGML wars, robust, debugged, stable, produces XML, XSL

  • Epic Interchange takes Word, FrameMaker files

  • Audience profiles allow conditional text, multiple DTDs, personalization

  • Validates as you enter, shows GUI and structure

  • Document Map shows objects, attributes, locations

  • Drag objects to positions marked with checkmarks.

  • Can publish to multiple formats, including paper, HTML, XML, XHTML, PDF, CD

  • Output flows into BroadVision 1-to-1, Chrystal Astoria, Documentum, Oracle iFS, XyEnterprise Content@

  • Publishes dynamic content through Arbortext E3

SoftQuad XMetaL

  • Cheap, pretty easy to use

  • Accepts Word documents, SGML, and converts

  • Accepts content from CMS, ODBC databases; works with workflow software

  • Validates as you go, shows Structure View

  • Shows valid attributes, elements

  • Outputs valid XML, well-formed XML, SGML

  • Output goes into Chrystal Astoria, Documentum, Vignette V/5

Vervet Logic XML Pro

  • Produces valid, well-formed XML

  • Shows tree outline view of document structure

  • Lets you create new elements, attributes, comments

  • Shows valid elements, correct structure, offers form to fill in.

Integrators and plug-ins

i4i S4/TEXT

  • Plugs into Word, hides tags, stores info in own database, allows search on elements

  • Validates structure

  • Outputs XML, with DTD

  • Requires i4i consulting, customizing

  • The Helper tells you what element you are in.

HyperVision WorX

  • Plugs into Word, off the shelf

  • Turns out XML that is well formed but not validated as you go; checks at end

  • Works with (is bundled with) XyEnterprise Content@XML

  • The WorX palette shows current structure, elements in a tree from DTD or schema

Content Management Systems (Static)

Criteria for Content Management Systems

  • Quality, type, scalability of database

  • Level of control over version, ownership, workflow process for each object

  • Updating objects automatically, or with notice

  • Web interface

  • Ability to author, control attributes (without redoing DTD)

Chrystal Astoria

  • Robust, stable, debugged

  • ObjectStore is the database (not a standard)

  • Outputs XML or SGML

  • Has no workflow control of its own; works with others

Documentum 4i

  • Accepts most formats, such as Word, Quark; uses FrameLink to grab FrameMaker files

  • Accepts, parses, validates, and maps XML docs to content repository

  • Works with Oracle, SQL, Informix, Sybase

  • Good content management, workflow

  • Validates, assembles on fly in WAP, ebXML,

  • Allows updating attributes for (3rd party) personalization engines to use

JD Edwards Enterprise CMS

  • Takes Office 2000 files, SGML, FrameMaker, Arbortext Adept

  • Good content management, particularly for tech comm

  • Workflow

  • Works with MS SQL Server, will work with Oracle

  • Outputs to print, CDROM, PDF, HTML, XML

Oracle iFS

  • Very cheap (free) Java-based file system

  • OK content management for entire enterprise, customized portals

  • Version control possible

  • Needs customization, but can translate XML vocabularies, support new document types

XyEnterprise Content@XML

  • Good content management, accepts SGML or XML, bundled WorX, or XMetaL, Epic, Word, FrameMaker, FM+SGML

  • Workflow handles review process

  • Works with Oracle or Informix

  • Assembles or disassembles XML instances on the fly, applies business rules

  • Also publishes Word, PDF, PostScript

  • Metatags must be created in DTD

  • XML Professional Publisher goes to PostScript, batch processing

Content Management Systems (Dynamic)

Arbortext Epic E-Content Engine (E3)

  • Accepts valid XML such as Epic Editor

  • Uses Epic Architect to convert Word, Interleaf, FrameMaker MIF to XML

  • Stores objects in Documentum, Oracle iFS

  • Stores, assembles, processes, personalizes com- ponents in XML

  • Retrieves data from databases on the fly

  • Publishes XML, HTML, WML, eBook, PDF, Word, MIF

  • Uses SGML standards, FOSI, not XML or XSL, but handles DOMs

Chrystal Eclipse

  • Sits on Chrystal Astoria

  • Oriented toward documents, but only on the Web

  • Uses XML throughout

  • Allows editing of objects, tree views

  • Detects duplicates, removes

  • Talks to SoftQuad XMetaL, Arbortext Adept (precursor to Epic)

  • Allows user profiling, personalization

  • The software juggles static content, interactive content, rules,templates, and DTDs.

EBT Engenda (now from RedBridge)

  • Allows direct editing via forms

  • Accepts files from EPIC, XMetaL, Visio

  • Converts Word, HTML to XML (not easy)

  • Long experience, as in Dynabase (now XML aware, rulebased, forms interface)

  • Good dynamic delivery, but only on Web

  • Needs customization

  • Caution: EBT went bust; the software has been taken over by RedBridge. 

Interwoven Team Site

  • Forms to fill out, XML applied behind scenes

  • Accepts many formats, as files (no objects recognized within them)

  1. With Interwoven Team Site, you browse your own mirror of the Web site, using the Smart Content Editor


2.  Then you choose New Data Content Record (to create a new object)

  1. Fill out an Interwoven form with information about yourself and the object you are creating.

  2. Write in the slots in the Interwoven form, or ask for a new section.

  3. Pick an Interwoven display template (stylesheet) and look at a preview.

  4. Check the preview, then revise if needed, or publish via Interwoven.

Vignette V/5

  • Aimed at e-commerce

  • Accepts Ms Office, Quark

  • Workflow built in, including scheduling release and removal of pages

  • Adapts to system of visitor, tracks behavior, follows recommendation engine, allows MySite pages

  • Content categorization for legacy docs, syndication to partners, relationship marketing

  • Expensive, time-consuming to customize

Web Application Servers

Web App Server Criteria

  • Content Management as part of e-business server

  • Personalization and customization

  • Syndication

Copyright 2001 Jonathan and Lisa Price, The Communication Circle
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