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The XML FAQ — Frequently-Asked Questions about the Extensible Markup Language

Section 4: Developers

Q 4.13: Software we’re missing

Useful programs that have disappeared from sight

There are probably dozens of useful and productive programs that have vanished. Sometimes the company simply went bust and disappeared; sometimes it was a private or open-source venture that the author had to abandon; and sometimes (worst of all) the company was taken over by another company which didn’t really know about XML, and was then bought out by another which had no clue at all, and the products became abandonware.

This is a list of those we knew and loved, but in some cases we do still have the installation disks, and the software may still execute given a suitable (outdated) platform.

Near & Far (Microstar)

A graphical SGML DTD-design program for Windows 95, which just about made it into the XML era (it could export in XML Declaration Syntax, but not import). Notable principally for its ease of use and its attractively-designed interactive diagramming of the document structure (still used by a few aficionados for documentation).

DynaText/DynaTag/DynaWeb (Electronic Book Technologies)

A suite of Windows 95/NT software comprising an SGML database and web server for serving HTML converted from Word documents.

The key component was DynaTag, which let you import a Word document, and identify patterns in the (non-XML) markup which mapped to elements in an ad-hoc output SGML document. The user-selectable mappings let you encapsulate list items into a real list, and generally fight your way through the mess of Word .doc files to produce tagged output. This could then be post-processed into conformance with a known DTD. With sufficient examples of similarly-constructed Word files, it could be let loose on a whole collection of them for bulk conversion.

Microsoft SGML Author for Word

Despite its name, not an editor but a converter. It used mappings from Word styles to SGML markup and really could do circular lossless conversion. Aimed at authoring communities who either couldn't or wouldn't learn to author or edit in SGML, it allowed authoring in Word and editing in SGML, and to then have the document converted back to Word for the authors to re-edit. Probably a check-box item for a contract, it was never supported by Microsoft, and even their own helpdesk didn't believe it was genuine.

Panorama (SoftQuad)

Plugin for Netscape to allow SGML downloads with a referenced stylesheet (which worked flawlessly once you got the hang of the slightly odd referencing). It also implemented HyTime bidirectional links, and you could publish your linksets.

Also available as Panorama Publisher, essentially an expanded version in standalone form for large-scale document publishing. Its stylesheet editing pane remains one of the best examples of interactive style manipulation.

Author/Editor (SoftQuad)

One of the first genuinely synchronous typographic editors for SGML (and XML, in its later incarnation as XMetaL). In widespread use for many years along with its simplified sibling, HoTMetaL.