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Re: [xml-dev] RE: Word processors and semantic content

You guys should use Xopus over the web :) 

We have very non technical users creating XML Schema valid content
basically in the same way they work with a regular word processor.


p.s. Hey Laurens, do I get a discount if they buy? :)

On Mon, 2008-02-11 at 12:41 -0500, Cox, Bruce wrote:
> I'd have to agree.  The USPTO tried some years ago to persuade
> applicants to submit patent applications in XML with very little
> success.  Those few corporate customers who adopted the tools we gave
> them (MS Word with template conversion to XML) produced documents that
> were not reliably structured.  While the software itself was
> problematic, the bigger issue was that the person creating the document
> did not use the styles (structures) appropriately (abstract tagged as
> the last claim, for example).  You could argue that it's only a matter
> of training the users in the conceptual model of the patent application
> contained in the structure of the underlying schema, and then they'd be
> able to correctly populate that structure, but I don't think so.  These
> were folks who knew all about the structure of a patent application
> (professional clerks in very large IP law firms), but had no economic
> motivation to be careful with the markup.
> As I see it, the conceptual (abstract logical) model of a document (of
> any kind) extant in any given culture is vague, but very powerful.
> Anyone who uses typewriter/word processor tools has a tacit model that
> is based on a "blank page" paradigm that bestows nearly unlimited
> freedom of layout.  Think of the difference of appearance between a
> formal wedding invitation and a legal brief presented to a court, and
> you'll see that a great deal of highly significant information is
> conveyed through the layout.  In both cases, the tacit model is
> elaborated into more-or-less detailed models more-or-less explicitly
> specified in either manuals of etiquette or through long exposure while
> studying law.  In the case of patent applications, the Manual of Patent
> Examining Procedure provides a great deal of detail about the content of
> an application but usually does not compel specific format or layout
> (all 100+ forms are optional).  The manner in which the rules are
> expressed is such that a great deal of flexibility is retained by the
> applicant while ensuring that the Office gets what it needs to examine
> the application in accord with the law.  Creating a successful patent
> application is the art of conforming to the rules of the MPEP, correctly
> using language to which the courts have assigned specific
> interpretations, disclosing the invention to one of ordinary skill in
> the art while escaping the attention of competitors, and still
> compelling the examiner to allow the application.  How do you create an
> authoring tool that enables that process without sacrificing sufficient,
> correct structure?
> The cost of adding explicit structure (markup) to a document is offset
> by the savings achieved with the automatic processing that the markup
> enables.  I used to think that, as the WWII-induced mania for
> industrializing all aspects of human discourse continues into the 21st
> century, it would happen that the tacit document model and the
> blank-page paradigm would evolve into something friendlier to explicit
> structure, largely because of the introduction of programming skills at
> earlier and earlier stages of formal schooling.  I'm not so sure any
> more, especially since most of the markup people encounter today is HTML
> and other types of primordial ooze conveyed through the WWW.  Things
> will be different, but will they be better?
> Until the tacit model (and human behavior along with it) changes, I
> suspect that the outcome of Microsoft vs. ODF is irrelevant.  At
> present, both of them appear to perpetuate rather than change the tacit
> model.  Perhaps Google has the best opportunity to do otherwise, but
> I've seen nothing yet to suggest that they will.
> Bruce B Cox
> US Patent & Trademark Office
> Manager, Standards Development Division
> The opinions expressed in this message are those of the author alone and
> do not represent the official views of the US Patent & Trademark Office.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Laurens van den Oever [mailto:laurens@xopus.com] 
> Sent: Friday, February 08, 2008 7:50 AM
> To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
> Subject: Word processors and semantic content
> Dear List,
> I enjoyed reading Elliotte's Future of XML article [1]. He made some
> interesting comments and sharp observations.
> But I disagree with one of the key statements in the article. 
> I'd like to share my thoughts with the list and learn what you think.
> At one point Elliotte says:
>  "Traditionally, you see two hard problems in training non-techies to
> write for the Web: teaching them semantic markup and showing them how to
> use FTP."
> And:
>  "XML-enabled word processors like OpenOffice and Microsoft Word solve
> the first problem."
> I don't think the first problem is solved. Word processors aren't going
> to magically create semantic markup now that they can dump their
> internal models to XML files.
> To me the semantic authoring problem is the problem of having non
> technical people creating semantic (and structured) content that meets
> the requirements set by the use of that content.
> If you're creating a plain weblog, a word processor may offer sufficient
> semantics. But if you have requirements that impose a structure that is
> more complex than HTML with custom tags, for instance nested sections,
> or a required element order, the flexibility (which is perceived as
> usability) of a word processor does more harm than good IMHO.
> What are your thoughts on this?
> Disclaimer: As an XML editor vendor, I'm biased, especially since our
> core business is structured editing for non-techies.
> [1] http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/x-xml2008prevw.html
> Laurens van den Oever
> Xopus Company
> laurens at xopus.com
> http://xopus.com
> +31 70 4452345
> Waldorpstraat 17G
> 2521 CA Den Haag
> The Netherlands
> KvK 27308787
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