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   An XML report-writer/viewer

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  • From: Andy Dent <dent@highway1.com.au>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 07:00:45 +0800

We have a cross-platform report-writer product which images GUI on Mac and
Windows and also renders to RTF and HTML. I'm in the early stages of a
project to create a standalone document format for the report-writer, which
allows re-opening of editable reports. These report documents must be a
single, wholly self-sufficient document, eg: so users can copy around on a

For this first release, report editing will be confined to a DTP model of
editing content in the frames, NOT adding extra elements.

I was about 3 days into a spec for the standalone document when I realised
it sounded a lot like the little I'd read about XML, so I spent my weekend
digesting XML Handbook.

So far, with the extension of XML-Binary, it sounds like XML will meet our
needs. My only major problems are with the content of page headers and
footers triggered by soft page breaks. The report-writer allows you to
define a header in terms of a "current field" (eg: an Account Name) which
would of course change in content as you go down the pages.

The best alternative I've so far thought of for handling this is the idea
of some form of "current page break" floating as "hidden text" in the XML
document. Within a given range, if you NEED to insert a soft page break,
you would use the  'current page break'. However, if you are rendering to a
page so long that it doesn't break, then you ignore these hidden breaks.

It's almost a 2-dimensional data model - ancillary data supplied that may
or may not be shown.

Your feedback is very welcome. I suspect we are working in an area a little
outside the norm for XML developers in that our focus is on a single
document rather than collection.

Andy Dent, Software Designer, A.D. Software, Western Australia
OOFILE - Database, Reports, Graphs, GUI for c++ on Mac, Unix & Windows
PP2MFC - PowerPlant->MFC portability

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