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We still use N&F Designer on a regular basis to work with customers in
designing DTDs, for all the reasons described in this thread. As for
orphan elements, N&F will sometimes display an element as if it were an
orphan, even though it isn't, just because it happens to appear first in
the DTD. One of the many non-fatal bugs the software had, despite
which, it is still my first choice for designing a DTD.
Bruce B. Cox
From: W. Hugh Chatfield I.S.P. [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 4:11 PM
To: Bob Foster; Betty Harvey; Roger L. Costello
Subject: RE: [xml-dev] A parentless element that is not the document
node - how?
Well I know my very first SGML project was the creation of the first
version of the Canadian CALS DTD.
I was coming out of a quarter century of IT work and just starting on a
new career with SGML?in Microstar. I knew systems analysis, design and
data modelling... but did not know SGML DTD syntax very well. The people
I was working with knew a little SGML and the customer knew none.
N&FD allowed you to create a DTD using drag and drop techniques.. and
concentrate entirely on the business task of creating a data model [as
opposed to the technical task of expressing that model formally in some
syntax]. A rectangle was an element, a tilde on the rectangle
represented attributes, connectors showed and/or logic, occurrance
symbols could occur on elements or connectors. Tree could be expanded or
contracted. Large number of reports (including some standard CALS DTD
reports) could be generated automatically if you used the tools to
capture the "documentation"
as well. The actual DTD syntax could be genereated with a button push
(save as DTD). Parsing was done with James Clarks SP inside. The N&FD
designer tool was originally meant to be one of a suite of tools to
support Computer Aided Document Engineering (CADE).. an engineering
process to deal with the entire process of delivering information.
The main claim to fame was the ability to "display" and explore the tree
structure without having to know a speck of SGML syntax. As B Harvey
said... absolutely invaluable for presentations and DTD walkthroughs. A
subject matter expert could be shown the basics of the Data Model in a
few minutes be talking and contributing to the design process.
Latest versions supported XML with wizards to go XML <-> SGML.
Announced but unreleased versions supported schemas.
After I left Microstar (by then Open Text) I provided support services
for N&FD until they withdrew the product.
I could produce any screen shot you want. Any particular DTD in
Now I have to admit that for very large complex, and especially very
modular DTDs, N&FD ran into problems... the main one being that it would
create one big DTD from all the pieces... you could not modify such a
although you could at least display it.
CyberSpace Industries 2000 Inc.
XML Consulting & Training
Visit Historic Perth Ontario: http://www.all-about-perth.com
[I attach a 129K JPG showing a screen shot of xhtml transitional 1.0. I
have opened it up one level and expanded a few things in the head. I am
pointing at the root element and looking at the attributes on the html
element... in particular I am editing the id attribute... which you see
is of type id. The leaf symbols shown are PCDATA and EMPTY. A bar on
right side of an element or parameter entity means that element/PE is
already expanded somewhere else on the screen.]
From: Bob Foster [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 2:46 PM
To: Betty Harvey; Roger L. Costello
Subject: Re: [xml-dev] A parentless element that is not the document
node - how?
From: "Betty Harvey" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> I really wish that tools like XML Spy and Extensibility would provide
> the same functionality as Near and Far for XML Schema's. Although I
> don't create DTDs in a graphical tool - Near and Far is the greatest
> QA and presentation tool for a DTD.
Near and Far seems to have been a casualty of the Microstar acquisition.
What was great about it? Does even a screen shot survive?
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