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    Structured documents: Why we want them, When we want them, and How we get them when we want them.

    Structured documents: Why we want them, When we want them, and How we get them when we want them.
    Jeff Beck

    Why Structured Documents? This should not be a tough sell to this group. Structured documents allow

    1.  automated processing,
    2.  ease interchange between organizations
    3.  support reuse of articles as a whole or in part
    4.  support external indexing/tagging, text mining

    But getting a document into XML has costs: monetary costs, time costs, and quality costs. Generally, the later in the workflow that the XML is made, the higher the cost and the poorer the quality. Ideally, if we can get articles into the structured format at authoring time, we'll be able to have a simplified workflow and get richer tagged XML at the end of the process.

    But, authors don't think in terms of structured documents. Well, they do, but they don't think in terms of tagged documents. If we get outside of the realm of supergeek authors, an author will generally want the "Word Experience". He wants to start with a blank page, do whatever he would like, and have control over the look of the document.

    But this is not really a bad thing. Authors want to control the look of the document because they want to control the structure of the document using the visual cues to document structure that we all learn as we learn to read. Understanding pseudostructured documents leads us to be able to put together a list of requirements for a successful XML article Authoring Tool (and an XML article Editing Tool for further down the line).
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