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   RE: [xml-dev] Arbortext bought

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I think you are playing semantic games.  Arbortext cut 
its teeth on markup and markup-based editing.  The fact 
of standards is relevant but also apples and oranges. 
ODA was a 'standard' but not supported by Arbortext. 
"Standards-based" is by and large another pop culture 
phenomenon.  There are good reasons to use standards, 
but buying 'standards' is a phase in our culture because 
for the most part, no one can tell us what those are 
other than 'lots of products can do this' and that 
makes them hugely irrelevant to the buy.

We don't differ on the product lifecycle management 
company issue.  At ten years, many here start at the end of 
the CALS consultancy bonanza.  It produced most of the 
thinking that became product lifecycle management as 
it migrated away from military logistics (the ultimate 
in product lifecycle management) toward Commerce At 
Light Speed (the nadir of PLM but the beginnings of legitimizing 
markup as a message format for business transactions). 
CAD systems and CASE systems thinking were merging 
in the beginning but the graphicsAreNeverSGML gurus 
made it impossible for that thinking to survive in 
the original community.  The markup technologists 
who start with HTML and are essentially fourth generation 
markup technologists didn't have to contend with that.

Unlike some original stars such as Datalogics, Arbortext 
navigated these changes and stayed at the top of their 
game.  People like Paul Grosso were quick to recognize 
the importance of the web and eager to get markup in 
full form in place.  While the FOSI was kept alive, it 
was sidelined.  While Hytime had the jewels, it was 
burgled and pilloried.  Such are the fortunes of 
technical competition.  Eventually, the good ideas from 
the overbuilt systems reemerge in different and usually 
simpler forms and the march to complexity starts anew.

The shift to messaging does affect companies that have 
based their product lines on documentation by making them 
mostly irrelevant as specialties.  Once markup became a 
mainstream technology because of messaging applications 
two things become clear:

1) With the exception of HTML, most of the markup 
document technologies exist in niches.  For all its 
ugliness, WYSIWYG systems such as Word doc files still 
dominate there.  Recasting into PLM is useful and a 
good niche, but not nearly as successful as relational 
systems for the same purpose.   Taking a WYSIWYG object 
model and streaming out markup is far easier than taking 
a markup design and going in the opposite direction. So 
once understood, the WYSIWYGers markup-enable and that 
takes most of the steam out of the pure markup plays.

2. The focus on messaging reveals that the complexities 
of the work-intensive systems based on FOSI are YAGNI. They 
were tough to begin with and didn't get much easier. 
Systems that take messages and spit out HTML are easier 
to build, easier to maintain, and good-enough-if-worse.

I don't see a lot of enterprises interested in buying 
pubs systems for their markup.  They buy them for their 
ability to integrate.  That is made much simpler by buying 
systems where pubs are simply part of the overall suite 
of products. That is why the mainstreaming of HTML has 
made the markup pubs companies obsolete.  Most of what 
is needed can be gotten from the Office suites.  The 
rest is a different job done by different people.

XML won, so Arbortext has to merge or die.  That is how 
business evolution works.  When a technology mainstreams, 
it becomes the business of the larger and therefore more 
diverse companies.  That is the price of success; selling 
the secret sauce recipes to the buyers with the deep pockets.


From: Paul Prescod [mailto:paul@prescod.net]

Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
> It is a market that is following the technical 
> reality that XML is plumbing for the operating 
> system frameworks that expose browsers as a 
> dominant GUI metaphor.   Markup applications 
> as standalone systems are increasingly sidelined 
> given the shift from markup for documents to 
> markup for messages.

I don't believe that Arbortext sells markup applications. I think that 
they sell a standards-based authoring and publishing platform. That's 
what their website says and when I've spoken with their customers they 
seem to agree.

A product lifecycle management company bought a complex technical 
documentation company. That makes sense to me. As you say: XML is 
plumbing (precisely: a technical means to a business end) and I think 
that both the purchaser and the purchasee understood that.

I don't believe that this has anything whatsoever to do a "the shift 
from markup for documents to markup for messages". There is no such 
shift. Yes, XML's center of gravity has shifted but that is irrelevant.

Did the "shift" towards the use of the World Wide Web (an application of 
the Internet) hurt the popularity of email (another application of the 
Internet?). Does the shift towards VOIP sideline BitTorrent? Apples and 


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