XML Aids Content Publishing

Adobe technology allows sites to develop once for multiple platforms; publishers ensure rights

As the number of new computing devices and new data formats grows, so, too, is demand for ways to create content once and repurpose it for multiple platforms without duplicating their work for each medium.

Adobe Systems Inc. may have one answer. At the Seybold Seminars Boston conference last week, the San Jose, Calif., company unveiled a "network publishing" strategy that will build on the idea of having a single repository for content.

Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen said achieving that goal will save users time and money, allowing them to eliminate redundant work. "We believe ... there should be one serial workflow to create, manage and deliver information," Chizen said.

A key technology to enable that goal will be XML (Extensible Markup Language), he said. Adobe will tag all its products with XML metadata to help its partners more easily repurpose the content.

Users said the strategy, espoused by other companies as well, could help them accomplish their goals.

"Im here to evaluate whether XML is viable and what sort of commitment wed have to make," said Sandra Stephens, a Web designer with Legerity Inc., an integrated-circuit-systems company in Austin, Texas.

Legerity has content ranging from engineering documents to marketing materials that it wants to adapt for the Web and other formats. "We have five or six really core customers who could be expedited so much by being able to access all that information," Stephens said.

"Were publishing both print documents and to the Web," said Jay Bourque, a developer with an electronic publishing company. "In some ways, [using XML] could definitely make a big difference, especially in publishing to the Web."

Officials with Arbortext Inc., of Ann Arbor, Mich., said the company already is providing an XML solution like the one envisioned by Adobe.

"Theyre hearing what were hearing," said Jim Sterken, president and CEO of Arbortext, adding that customer demand is driving the trend. Arbortext is releasing a product in August that will generate catalogs for print, the Web or CD-ROM from the same source.

While, so far, XML has been used mainly as an electronic data interchange replacement, "this year is going to be the year it starts being used heavily for content," Sterken said.

Efforts are also under way to help publishers search and find content from repositories and ensure that the rights to the content are protected.

A group called Publishing Requirements for Industry Standard Metadata (PRISM) released the first version of a metadata specification last week. The specification provides a vocabulary for print and online publishing, including descriptions of the data and rights and permissions associated with the data.

"Its not a magic wand, but I think its going to make a huge difference," said Linda Burman, co-chairwoman of the PRISM working group and vice president of Kinecta Corp., in Toronto.

Also working in the digital rights management space is ContentGuard Inc., of Bethesda, Md. ContentGuard, a spinoff from Xerox Corp., created Extensible rights Markup Language to express rights, terms and conditions attached to content. The company soon will release the language to an open standards group it is forming.