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

Section 5: Appendices

Q 5.4: Lost XML software

Some of the best software that has disappeared

The most common cause of lost good software seems to be that the company making it got taken over through no fault of their own, by a corporate shark who didn't know what they were buying, or who simply didn't care. In these cases it wasn't the product that was at fault — often it was popular and selling well; it just fell foul of corporate stupidity.

Near&Far (MicroStar)

A standalone visual (graphical) SGML DTD design tool, originally for Microsoft Windows 95. N&F made it very easy to prototype a new document type, although later stages of development were usually hand-tuned. It was also an excellent tool for displaying the structure of a newly-encountered DTD. When XML arrived, they kept the internal SGML model but provided a ‘save-as’ in XML syntax.

Many current design tools have similar embedded functionality (eg XML Spy), but there is no equivalent standalone tool of the same quality. A development to use RelaxNG to generate different syntaxes would be a major advance.

MicroStar was bought by OpenText Corp and the product was dropped on the floor just at the point when it would have been most useful. If you have a copy (one was embedded in the WordPerfect SGML/XML editor), it still executes under XP, and in Codeweavers' Wine under Linux.

DynaWeb (EBT)

A family of products: DynaBase, the underlying SGML database; DynaWeb, a Windows server with a graphically-managed stylesheet system for serving XML or SGML converted to HTML, and an excellent markup search facility; and DynaTag, a GUI system for converting Word and Frame documents to SGML or XML, based on the original RainbowMaker commandline converter.

EBT was bought up by Inso Corp, and the product was ignored for several years. However, a page on Indo's server now claims to provide details, but it is not known if the product is still available. It appears that they inherited some users, so for a while they still had a DynaWeb training page.

The good news is that Red Bridge Software now occupies the old EBT factory (under the Red Bridge in Providence, RI), selling a content management system that includes DynaTag and some other elements of the original range.

Panorama (SoftQuad)

An SGML browser from SoftQuad with an SGML-syntax stylesheet which worked both standalone and as a Netscape plugin, based on Synex Viewport. This let users open direct links to SGML documents: Panorama would download both instance and DTD via an entity resolver, perform a tokenised parse, and apply the specified stylesheet.

Its unique features included switching between multiple stylesheets, a search result density indicator, and the ability to implement double-ended HyTime links, which let anyone publish their own set of links, even multi-ended links, and even between documents that they didn't own. The browser plugin was free, and the full version included the stylesheet editor.

SoftQuad faltered after Yuri Rubinsky passed away, and was taken over by Corel (WordPerfect), where the product was ignored.

SoftQuad's Author/Editor SGML editor product transmuted into XMeTaL, which is still available from JustSystems.

If you have more information about useful products that have disappeared, please email the editor.