Internet Publishing Solution

White Paper


Introduction

The evolution of widespread computer use in the early 1980's was hailed by environmentalists as the end of unnecessary de-forestation because information could be shared electronically rather than on paper. Unfortunately, the exact opposite happened -- paper use increased. In spite of this, buzz words such as 'paperless office' and 'paperless publishing' are still being used in discussions about the future of computing. In the past, electronic documents presented few advantages over paper. Software was engineered for document creation, not document consumption. Documents were not distributed electronically because paper and monitors were different sizes, the recipient didn't have the application used to create the document, and graphics and fonts did not properly display on different systems. Furthermore, computers were generally standalone machines and platform dependent, making document interchange no easier than transferring documents on paper.

Finally, in the 1990's, the vision of publishing documents electronically is gaining more credibility. Applications whose specific function is distributing and consuming electronic documents are just now hitting the market. The realization of a society that consumes less paper is coming to fruition due to better networked environments and e-mail systems to aid in document transfer, and most importantly, the ability of local networks and individuals to connect to the Internet. Because electronic documents can be distributed both faster and cheaper, they now have a great advantage over paper. What's more, documents can be stored and accessed by users in disparate locations, using different systems.

The Internet was developed by the U.S. military for the purpose of transferring information to remote locations and has been in use by the government since the early 1970's. The Internet is a massive worldwide network of computers. The word Internet' literally means network of networks.' The Internet is comprised of thousands of smaller regional networks scattered throughout the globe. The Internet generally refers to the physical side of the global network; the cables and computers. It does, however, include some software that routes information packets to the correct address. The Internet structure has significantly contributed to other projects that have used its infrastructure.

The World-Wide Web (WWW or Web) project, which originated at CERN in Geneva Switzerland in 1989, made the Internet more useful by using it as a backbone to connect over 7000 servers. The Web provides locations for information storage and is often referred to as a body of information or an abstract space of knowledge. The 1993 introduction of NCSA's Mosaic viewer transformed both the Internet and the Web from systems used primarily by education and government, into an information exchange medium for the masses. The Internet is now becoming the standard information storage and interchange mechanism for many organizations including large business and government.

As a testament to its growth, on any given day in 1993 the Internet connected roughly 15-million users in over 50 countries. In 1994, that number grew to at least 30-million users (according to a Honolulu Community College Study). Traffic growth, in bytes, was even more impressive. From 1993 to 1994, traffic on the Internet doubled, and traffic on the Web increased by over 1400% (according to gopher://nic.merit.edu:7043/11/nsfnet/statistics).

By facilitating the exchange and reuse of information to connect suppliers, customers and business partners worldwide, the Internet has the potential to change how businesses operate. Businesses who fail to acclimate to this change could easily find themselves, in only a few years, hopelessly outdated. It is interesting to note that currently over 50% of white collar workers have not heard of the Internet. This figure illustrates the growth that is still to come in this market.

Electronic Publishing Problems on the Internet

In spite of its steady growth, interacting with the Internet is not an easy process. In fact, an average computer user would have a very hard time even getting connected to the Internet, not to mention retrieving information from or publishing information to the Internet. Some of the problems include:

1. Connecting to the Internet

Connection requires a number of pieces, which, if the user knows little about them, can be very confusing. Adding to the problem is that as the Internet gains in popularity, so does information about available options. Additional information about options that one does not understand is only more confusing. What the average user needs is all of the tools delivered in one package, not multiple options for each tool. Some of the pieces needed for Internet access are:

2. Publishing Documents

HTML is the standard document format on the Internet. While many document formats may be on the Internet, HTML is the Web standard and required for home pages. All Web browsers (software that allows one to navigate the Internet or "Surf the Net"), have the ability to view only HTML formatted documents.

HTML is subset of SGML. It is a special format of documents, including text and graphics, that allows information to be viewed using Web browsers. HTML strips a document of its formatting and layout and maintains only its content, in the form of ASCII text, and its structure, in the form of tags that encompass each element of the document. These tags define the location of content, style, and hypertext links. Specifically, each element of a document is preceded by an open tag and followed by a close tag. For example, the title of a document would be preceded by a 'begin title' tag and followed by an 'end title' tag. The title would look like this:

               <title>This is a Title</title>

For this example, the tag was rather descriptive, but HTML tags are very cryptic. For example, a specific level heading tag in a Web document would look like this:

               <H1>This is a Level One Heading</H1>

Without a very good understanding of HTML and the tagging structure, any given tag would be meaningless.

Creating HTML documents is difficult. To author HTML documents, users are typically technical and have a high level of understanding of Unix, SGML, and HTML, meaning that few mainstream users author HTML documents. In fact, entire service industries now exist around creating, tagging and validating SGML/HTML documents because average users simply do not have the time or expertise it takes to work in the SGML environment. These service industries have used niche tools for authoring and validating SGML structure, and were designed with the technical SGML user in mind. Because authoring in HTML is difficult, the average computer user has been locked out of Internet publishing.

Computer users generally create their documents in a proprietary file format such as WordPerfect or MS Word. The average computer user who wants to author and publish documents to the Web has only a few of choices. The user can:

The optimum solution to HTML publishing would incorporate HTML authoring in a mainstream word processing environment. This would require the HTML authoring to be either transparent or easy for the user to accomplish.

Another key would be the use of a Web browser that allows not only the ability to view HTML documents, but other standard document formats, such as word processing and portable document formats. Then the user or consumer of the information could get at not only Web home pages, but other types of information as well over the Internet.

3. Managing Documents

Once documents are posted to the Internet, they must be maintained and revised. Because of the difficulty in working with the HTML format, HTML documents have been viewed as static or non-editable. Considerable effort is expended to convert documents into HTML; to edit and revise existing documents would require a similar effort. It is seldom the case that documents are static. By some estimates, 85% of published information changes at least once a month. This is hardly a new problem. In the past, one of the larger users of the Internet has been education, an institution that is ripe with cheap and/or free labor. Many graduate students have been kept busy maintaining educational servers. Unfortunately, business doesn't have access to the same quantities of free labor. They must pay competitive wages, so Web server maintenance becomes quite expensive. Publishing houses experience yet another problem. A publishing house that intends to publish up to 1900 magazine documents to their Web server as an additional service to their subscribers finds its efforts have been stalled because of the lack of electronic publishing tools available to maintain and revise the Web documents.

One of the big advantages of HTML is that information can be stored, used and re-used without the worry of disparate operating systems, non-compatible proprietary file formats, or the need to continually re-format. Both of these activities require editing existing HTML documents. The same problems with publishing HTML documents apply to editing them -- there are no mainstream editing tools. To edit HTML documents, users must:

Each of these options involve time-consuming processes and aid the perception that HTML documents are difficult to create and edit. These methods also force document revisions to be document re-writes. As Web documents grow in number it will become unacceptable to rewrite each document that only needs revision.

The Internet Publishing Solution

For over a decade, WordPerfect has been the world-wide standard for word processing. With over 17-million users, WordPerfect documents are authored in a very familiar environment. As technology changes, WordPerfect has supported such changes to give users the most advanced technology in document processing. The recent release of WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows is a testament to this philosophy. The following are excerpts from the press:

"In our view, WordPerfect 6.1 is the strongest of the three [Windows word processors]. WordPerfect has always been laden with features, but this latest version makes significant progress in making these features simple to use. ...Word for Windows lacks some of the sophisticated document filing capabilities of WordPerfect, which could make finding documents more of an ordeal on a complex system."
Business Consumer Guide, December 1994
"WordPerfect 6.1 is a coup d'etat over Microsoft's Word and Lotus's Ami Pro. ...You'll find many improvements in WordPerfect 6.1 that you didn't think were possible. ...Usability is just about as good as it gets. ...An unparalleled combination of power and ease of use."
Five-star rating in the November issue of PC/Computing
"PerfectSense is the first breakthrough in editing that I've seen in a long time," said Jeffrey Tarter, editor of Soft*letter in Watertown, Mass. "WordPerfect's a good two years ahead of the competition."
Quoted in PC Week, August, 15, 1994

Over three years ago, WordPerfect Corporation saw that electronic document delivery was the wave of the future, and formed an electronic publishing team. This team is comprised of electronic publishing tools experts who have studied market research, reviewed customer feedback, and developed the strategy and tools for bringing electronic publishing and document interchange to the mainstream. The electronic publishing tools group has been involved in various consortiums that explore electronic document delivery, such as SGML Open and the ODA Consortium. WordPerfect Corporation has actively supported non-proprietary file formats (e.g., SGML and ODA) and has released electronic publishing tools (e.g., Intellitag, Envoy, ConvertPerfect/ODA) that make electronic document delivery a reality.

Because WordPerfect Corporation has established itself as the first major vendor to provide a complete electronic publishing solution, the merger with Novell, Inc. only adds to the work that has been accomplished over the past three years. The Internet is the next technological frontier in electronic document delivery, and Novell is poised to deliver the tools its users need for a successful Internet publishing solution.

In establishing the strategy for Internet Publishing, Novell has four goals:

  1. To enable users to use WordPerfect as their authoring system of choice for Internet publishing and electronic document delivery.
  2. To enable users to view not only HTML formatted documents, but also native WordPerfect documents and Envoy portable documents.
  3. To give users the software and choice of service providers they need to make the connection to the Internet.
  4. To provide users with the first superior Web document maintenance solution.

To achieve these goals, Novell realizes it must provide a family of electronic publishing tools the customer can choose from to connect, access, author, and browse the Internet. The choice will be based on the pieces the user currently owns and currently needs.

The products are:

Internet Publisher

This product is designed for the WordPerfect user who is already connected to the Internet. As stated in the introduction, one of the problems that Internet users have is that they must either publish HTML documents to the Web, or they must have access to viewers for proprietary formats. The Internet Publisher solves this problem as well as achieving the first two goals of the Internet family of products. Specifically, the Internet Publisher provides:

Publishing Solution

Viewing Solutions

The Internet Publisher provides:

Internet Publisher Pro

The Internet Publisher Pro is designed for WordPerfect users who are not already connected to the Internet. In addition to providing publishing and viewing tools, it strives to give users all the pieces they need for connection achieving goals 1, 2 and 3 stated earlier. This package is available on CD-ROM and includes:

Connection Solutions

Publishing and Viewing Solutions

It's important to note that the Internet Publisher Pro will give users their choice of service providers. The user will be able to choose the provider of their choice, and the Internet Publisher Pro will contain the necessary software to connect to that service.

In short, the Internet Publisher Pro provides the connection software and service provider, publishing and viewing tools necessary for the new Internet user.

WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows SGML Edition

Documents on the Internet must still be maintained, and WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows SGML Edition gives users that ability. SGML Edition allows users to create SGML documents using WordPerfect 6.1 rather than requiring a completely separate editing application. Users will be able to leverage their existing knowledge of WordPerfect.

While a template-based approach to HTML document creation is useful for small numbers of documents, it does not scale well to maintaining servers full of documents. SGML Edition was designed for this type of task. Moreover, as electronic publishing and digital commerce applications demand ever more complex SGML document types, SGML Edition will provide a viable solution.

SGML Edition allows direct editing of HTML documents that can then be revised, re-saved and published back to the Internet. Because SGML Edition is a complete solution, the user is not limited to the HTML template provided with the Internet Publisher. SGML Edition gives users the ability to create forms for Internet distribution and high-end customized HTML documents.

As the Internet and the Web evolve, so will HTML. In time, HTML will need to incorporate more of the robustness of full SGML, and will become closer to SGML. For example, HTML 2.0, the current Web standard, is much closer to full SGML than was HTML 1.0. By using WordPerfect 6.1 SGML Edition, the publisher of Internet documents will be ready for future HTML specifications changes. To publish with each change, all the user will need is a new DTD for the enhanced HTML specification. Because the SGML Edition will support any DTD, it will automatically support new HTML specifications and will always ship with the most recent HTML DTD. New HTML DTDs will also be available free of charge from Novell.

Other features of the SGML Edition include:

Layout Designer
The Layout Designer allows the user to assign format to SGML or HTML documents which contain only content and structure. The layout designer, through the macro language of WordPerfect 6.1, also allows batch tagging of documents.
Document Type Definition Support
SGML is defined by a Document Type Definition, or DTD. The DTD defines how the document is structured and facilitates the publishing of information between different applications. SGML is extremely flexible to enable organizations to design their own user-defined or use an industry DTD that is similar to their organizations style. The SGML Edition of WordPerfect can use any user defined DTD, and ships with a good number of industry defined DTDs. HTML is basically a DTD that was defined specifically for the Web. It will certainly change in the future to accommodate changing nature of the Web. Because the SGML edition supports any DTD, it will always be up to date with the Internet.
File Support
Either WordPerfect, SGML or HTML documents can be retrieved directly into SGML Edition without conversion.
Alias Support
As is often the case with HTML (recall the cryptic tag used as an example above), a DTD may contain tags that are not identifiable by name to the SGML author. Using an alias allows the author to assign an alternative name to the tag. For example, using the case above the level one heading tag <H1> could have an alias that states the function it plays in the overall HTML tag. This feature greatly simplifies the HTML authoring and editing task.
Interactive Validation and Error Reporting
As the user tags a document for SGML output, an interactive validation feature walks the user through the tagging process. As determined by the DTD, HTML for this example, the validator will indicate what tag should be applied at that point in the document. Error reporting occurs when a tag is improperly placed in the document.

Conclusion

The recent announcement from Novell stated plans to deliver a full range of Internet access, hosting, and application development tools for NetWare. The Internet Publishing Solution is the first step along a path to a complete Internet connection, access, and application family of products from Novell. Novell is moving forward in its promise to provides additional electronic publishing tools to easily act upon information available on the Internet. This is Pervasive Computing...It's connecting people with other people and the information they need, giving them the power to act on that information -- anytime, anyplace.