I'm very new to XML publishing but my company is migrating from SGML to XML and is looking into a product called XPP from a company that used to be called Xywright. If anyone here has knowledge of XPP, can you please tell me if it can offer any features not available through FrameMaker? Thanks.
Does XPP still exist? I thought it is dead for quite some time now. I remember that SDL had bought XyEnterprise in 2009 and somehow merged it into their CMS. However, SDL heavily slashed down all their non-translation activities earlier this year. Not sure, if going this solution is a good idea as it does not seem to have a future … But this is just my personal thought!
FrameMaker is an excellent tool for XML publishing. Especially combined with Adobe's new DITA CCMS ("XML Documentation Add-on for Adobe Experience Manager") you have more or less endless possibilities for on and offline-authoring, managing, reviewing, translating, publishing, analyzing. And you can publish XML Content to pretty much all channels from high-quality PDFs to Websites, dedicated Responsive HTML5 sites, ePUBs, Kindle e-books, iOS / Android Apps, Adobe DPS and much more. And all this very easy with visual tools and no need for expensive and time-consuming programming.
Thanks for your reply. I work for a large organization that produces multiple publications. Many years ago they created their own proprietary system for tagging text. Right now their workflow is made up of these steps: (1) They receive data in MS Word and run it through a program that adds SGML tags. Some tags are missed by the program or are incorrect so they are hand coded. (2) The final SGML documents are then converted back to their own proprietary system's tags and then all are converted to into XML. (3) They use an ancient scripting program that they created to accomplish all of these steps.
We are currently in the process of trying to migrate everything into an XML workflow with XPP. They've spent a lot of time (years) and money to try to match the output that the old system created. I guess I'm asking why they chose XPP over FrameMaker. As I said, I'm no expert but it seems obvious that FrameMaker is a much better and faster solution. Am I missing something?
To add some additional thoughts, on top of Stefan's reply... FrameMaker is quite an excellent tool for authoring and publishing XML. And, it is an excellent tool even if you only want to do one or the other. And, it has a scripting interface that is enormously capable, both within the FrameMaker environment and outside of it (string manipulation, file management, socket communications, etc.). However, having said all that, I'm not clear exactly what is your vision for FrameMaker. Can you clarify the role that you think it would have? What exactly would be the input and then the final output?
Our goal is to update the current system in place with an XML publisher that can produce output to many formats - print, web, ebooks, plain text, etc. We also need the ability to exactly match existing publications, and to convert archived publications to the new XML format.
Most of the input comes to us as Word documents or plain text. Our customers would also like to be able to work in the same platform that we will be using. Given FrameMaker's interface, it seems like an ideal solution.
As I said, I'm not an expert but I don't see any advantages of XPP over FrameMaker. I want to be sure that I'm correct in that assumption before I present FrameMaker as a solution to upper management.
Thanks for your answer.
So, it seems there are two separate "big things" here... 1) The conversion of Word, etc. to XML and then 2) the conversion of XML to a publishable format. I think that #1 is generally out of the scope for any authoring/publishing tool, although FrameMaker does have some features for adding structure to content. As a part of that, it can import Word as a preliminary step to the structuring process. However, the effectiveness of that automation is entirely dependent on how consistent your input is. Of course, I guess that is true regardless of what tool we are discussing. In any case, I would consider that part as the lesser consideration with regard to the discussion thus far. Someone who has strong expertise in FM might choose it based on that familiarity, but someone else might go a different and perfectly legitimate route.
#2 is where FrameMaker is strongly applicable, as you will find no better print (PDF) publisher than FM. Additionally, it has recently added features to export a variety of other formats, as have been mentioned. I personally don't use these features so I don't know how versatile and robust they are. Furthermore, I have not heard much chatter from the community. But, I imagine they would serve your needs. They might need some customization on the side, but you are looking at significant customization no matter what, so what could a little more hurt?
Here are two other primary strengths of FM, which may or may not be applicable in your case. Because they are a major focus of the product, you may find FM more worthy if they apply to you, and vice-versa:
1 - The authoring interface - In my opinion, FM has the finest structured authoring interface of any structured authoring tool. With that, I am talking about the human author. If somebody needs to manually put words on the page in an XML format, FM (in my opinion) is king. You did not mention anything about manual authoring, thought.
2 - Automation and customization - FM has multiple programmatic interfaces with which you can automate just about anything. The newer ExtendScript interface is very accessible to even the amateur programmer and can really do some impressive work.
So, these are just some additional thoughts. With what little I know about your situation, I believe that some additional thought and research might be in order. If FrameMaker is the right tool, you would be wise to arm yourself with clear reasons why.
All excellent points. Thank you very much for your thoughtful input.