Google Buys DocVerse: Maybe This Collaborative Authoring Thing Finally Has Legs?

March 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Posted in Content Management, Office, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment

This morning, Google announced it is buying a little company in San Francisco that enables real-time and asynchronous (offline) collaborative authoring of Microsoft Office docs called DocVerse.  The founders of DocVerse are actually ex-Microsoft product folks.

As I wrote back in September 2008, I believe collaborative authoring is one of the top five trends for next generation authoring.  The increase in technological solutions to the challenges of dealing with multiple authors has continued since then, with many approaches to different aspects of the problem.

First, we’ve seen responses from the big guys.

  • Microsoft: Office 2010 provides a slew of simultaneous editing features (i.e., multiple cursors typing in different positions of the same document), some in conjunction with SharePoint 2010.  Simultaneous editing was already in OneNote, but since that product is mostly relegated to simple note-taking status by all but a few aficionados, having it in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel is hitting the big time.
  • Google: Google Docs allows multiple users to edit the same document in their own format, although in January they added the ability to share any file type (not with simultaneous editing).

To figure out who has the best answer requires knowing the problem you’re trying to solve.  The term “co-authoring” is vague and doesn’t specify what aspects of multiple authors are being addressed.  Is it:

  • Check-in, check-out, and versioning:  The most basic functionality required by multiple asynchronous authors is the ability to tag a document as “checked out” and file it back in later.  Document management systems, collaborative workspaces, and source code control systems have provided this functionality for a long time.  Let’s skip right past this category.
  • Review and Commenting: Often there is one document owner who writes most of the content and has primary responsibility for the finished product, but many reviewers whose input needs to be managed.  Microsoft has promised to allow multiple reviewers to comment up a “single version of truth” document, which would solve many hassles involved with emailing documents around and merging changes.  Other vendors such as TextFlow and Backboard have taken stabs at managing the review process.  Managing the process (verifying reviewers have been heard from, that all comments have been addressed, etc.) is still not directly addressed and provides a more difficult procedural and cultural hurdle than technically figuring out how to merge comments.
  • Simultaneous authoring: Students in classes that want to contribute to a single document of notes during a class have used SubEthaEdit, a basic text editor that has been around for quite a while and allows co-authoring with multiple cursors in documents. Zoho allows this too.
  • Componentized authoring and content reuse: Except for shared note taking and intensive review sessions, simultaneous authoring is not very useful.  What is more common is divvying up pieces of a deliverable to multiple authors for final assembly by a chief editor.  This may involve assigning sections of a presentation deck to a series of authors or dividing a Word document into sections or chapters for members of a team to work on.  High end document creators use XML authoring software such as Altova XMLSpy, Arbortext Editor, BroadVision QuickSilver, JustSystems XMetaL, PTC Arbortext and, Stylus Studio. But a large swath of non-professional authors need easier, less-expensive tools.  One example is Vasont which manages content components as collections, particularly for translation projects.  This problem requires fundamentally different tooling than the set provided by Office 2010 or Google/DocVerse.  It’s less whiz-bang than seeing a demo with multiple people typing away with different colored cursors and arrows to their locations in a document, but I think attention on componentized authoring would yield higher productivity for organizations than simultaneous authoring.

As far as I’m concerned, this purchase is not a big deal yet until it yields some fruit in the unknown future.  And I’d rather see an emphasis on helping authors to componentize and reuse content rather than worry about how to handle about them typing over each other’s cursors.

Note: This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.


Is SharePoint Inevitable for My Organization?

October 9, 2009 at 8:12 am | Posted in collaboration, Content Management, Microsoft SharePoint | Leave a comment

It’s amazing how often the question “Is SharePoint Inevitable for My Organization?” comes up in conversations with clients.  Usually not that bluntly or directly, but the question underlies their questions and assumptions.  For example, in a conversation with a client today they were looking at another portal product.  But there are some pockets of SharePoint and after some back and forth on comparisons, they stopped and asked if the evaluation matters since they’re not sure they can stop SharePoint anyways due to a lack of central control and some enthusiastic groups.

Of course, the question is vague in that it doesn’t specify whether SharePoint is going to exist for tactical uses or be a strategic portal and collaboration solution that pushes out all others.  An organization with lots of other products in place can fit SharePoint in if it’s tightly scoped, possibly limited to one or two functions.

I have indeed talked to some organizations that don’t have a drop of SharePoint in them (that the person I was talking to knew about anyways).  If someone is trying to keep SharePoint out – or just wants to understand what it would take to make such a decision – it’s worth examining the companies that have done so.  I see two models.

The first model is companies that have kept SharePoint out through brute force.  Architectural decisions have been made based upon principles and best fit for the organization and the decision was not to use SharePoint.  For example, they may have a mostly Java skillset and applications are expected to be able to run on Unix.  Compliance is strong at these organizations, so no project with SharePoint passes the necessary architecture review and data center and LAN security processes ensure that no servers can be deployed with it.  These organizations often claim to have no “rogue” servers due to strict compliance and security measures. 

The second model is companies that have correctly addressed the needs of the business by providing non-Microsoft content management, collaboration, and portal solutions that meet their needs.  Their collaboration and content architecture not only meets capability needs, but is easy for end-users to self-provision sites without bothering IT.  Accordingly, there is no desire for SharePoint because it would not provide anything the business needs that they don’t already have in house.

I admire both of these types of companies.  After many years of working on web architecture and governance, I can appreciate an organization that has established a proper top-down architectural strategy and sticks to it.  But I admire the second type even more since it doesn’t leave a frustrated, grumbling underclass of business folks that aren’t having their needs met.  In the second model, IT is properly fulfilling its role as a service provider to the business.

What this line of discussion leads to is essentially the question “Is it worth the political capital it would take to keep SharePoint out?”.  A weak central IT group (or at least weaker than the advocates for SharePoint) would have to expend significant political capital to shut SharePoint down, including escalating compliance violations, stopping partially completed projects, and endless debates with SharePoint’s proponents.  This may be possible, but not worth the costs of failure or even success (festering animosity) that could result in some organizations. 

In an ideal world, architectural principles that optimize long-term, enterprise-wide value would guide IT decisions.  And those architectural principles, in turn, would reflect the needs of the business.  But years of speaking with clients about their real-life situations have demonstrated the reality of how those decisions are often made.  Decision making in a sub-optimal or unbalanced environment requires a bit of extra foresight.  Politics is the art of the possible, so in these cases, central IT decides to just let SharePoint in rather than fight it.

Note: This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

Content Globalization Report Now Available in Capsule Form

June 4, 2009 at 7:46 am | Posted in Content Management, Fun, Globalization, Recession, wordle | Leave a comment

I wrote a blog posting over at the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog that answered the Global Watchtower’s pronouncement of “companies claiming that ‘it just isn’t worth it’ to have websites in other languages.”  My response is that I suspect this is due to tighter economic conditions that require harder business cases coming up against web localization efforts that have easily quantified costs but benefits that are difficult to measure.

If you want more detail, you can read that blog post here.  What I want to do here is provide this Wordle chart of my report “ECM for Translation and Localization: Raising IT’s Globalization Fluency“.  This report is only available to clients, but I can boil down all 45 pages of it into one handy chart on “content globalization”.  It’s like getting your knowledge in capsule form!  Click for a larger view.

wordle globalization report sm

When You’re a Productivity Suite, Everything’s a Nail

May 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Posted in Content Management, Information Work, Office | Leave a comment

One of the arguments that many alternate productivity suite vendors have made is that most users of Office are not power users and don’t need all the complex functionality it provides.  These basic users just want the ability to create simple documents, spreadsheets, and presentations and the unneeded complexity of Office makes Office bloated, overly complex, and too expensive.  Guy Creese summed it up well:

Both sides of this argument are wrong: Microsoft saying that you need to overbuy because you never know when a worker might need a certain feature (true, but not as often as Microsoft claims); Google, IBM, and Sun saying that you don’t need all that functionality (actually, sometimes you do).

In thinking through some common productivity use cases with Guy for some upcoming research he’s doing on productivity suites, it occurred to me that an argument could be made that certain complex features should be left out not because they’re infrequently needed, but because they don’t belong in that tool in the first place. 

Microsoft has given the world three hammers in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and now every content situation looks like a nail to information workers weaned on these tools.  They are very generalized tools and have been expanding in functionality to incorporate many situations that other tools would be better for.

To give just a few examples I often see:

  • Excel as a database and reporting tool.  It’s not uncommon to see spreadsheets with thousands of rows being maintained and various tricks to get summary data out of them and enable multiple users to input data into it.  Isn’t that what simple end-user databases are supposed to do for you?
  • PowerPoint as a photo slide show.  I keep getting .pps files with slide shows of funny pictures or inspirational images, one .jpg per slide.  Why?  Just to save the trouble of someone figuring out how to use a zip file of .jpgs?
  • Excel as business intelligence tool. Excel is often cited as the #1 BI tool.  Depending on how high-falutin’ your definition of BI is (and mine stretches to OLAP), shouldn’t you just use a BI tool if that’s what you want to do?
  • Word or PowerPoint as a page layout tool.  Want to create a greeting card?  Or do fancy layout of a newsletter?  That’s why there’s a category of software for doing page layout and publishing, ranging from consumer-level to professional. 

While there’s no doubt sometimes people stretch tools too far simply because they are familiar with them, it shows forethought and flexibility when new uses for a tool keep cropping up.  Specialized tools can be expensive and require learning yet one more interface.

Ultimately, this is just one facet of the “which tool to use?” problem I outlined previously, and it extends to most tools in the information worker toolbelt, from using e-mail for collaboration instead of a collaborative workspace to collating changes in Word docs instead of using a wiki.

This is a cross-posting from the KnowledgeForward blog, but here in my personal blog I’ll add one more example of stretching the boundaries of Office: using PowerPoint to design a New Year’s hat for my kid (see below).  Not quite what its creators intended I’m sure!

New years baby 2009 sm

Google Take Your Pick: Enterprise-ready or Fun-and-Fancy-Free

March 26, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Content Management, Google | Leave a comment

Robin Wauters on TechCrunch reports on some security holes Ade Barkah found in Google Apps:

It appears that if you share a document carrying a diagram – a feature Google introduced yesterday – with anyone, this person will be able to view any version of any diagram that has been embedded in the document. That basically means that if you create a diagram with sensitive information and later decide to strip some of it away before sharing the document in view-only mode, the person you share it with will be able to revert to previously saved versions simply by tweaking the URL a bit, uncovering what you thought you were still hiding from him or her.

Thank you Google for providing a perfect example of the trend I call “content landmines” (see More on the Top 5 Trends for NextGen Authoring; content landmines was called “dangerous findability” at the time).  The idea is that the flipside of the “living documents” trend (that documents follow a meandering path through many versions before reaching their completion – if they are ever “done” at all) is that the old versions of documents can continue to live on, revealing information through changes that you thought were hidden in a “final” version.  A common example is tracked changes and comments that can be turned on and examined in Microsoft Word contract sent to a potential customer.  That would be the result of carelessness.  But with Google, the author did nothing wrong and the landmine can still blow up in their face.

I found the commentary on Robin’s blog post to be quite amusing.  A number of commenters shrugged it off with statements like:

  • “If you want your files to be secure in the first place, just don’t share them on the cloud.”
  • “The type of person that uses Google docs, don’t care about security.”
  • “Doesn’t beta imply “This thing is buggy. Use it at your own risk” (DNA)
  • “Simply put, Google Apps are a fun tool. Not really intended for business. Don’t put your secure/important files within Google tools.” (Greg)

Ah, if Google only publicly agreed with DNA and Greg and endorsed these statements then this indeed would just warrant a shrug of the shoulders.  Granted, the intention is clearly that security would work properly and when the outcome doesn’t match the developer’s specified behavior it’s a bug, pure and simple.  But a bug, in freebie, beta, “fun” software – <shrug>. 

But Google really sells this stuff.  It charges money to enterprises for Premier Edition (see product comparison).  There is a team (albeit a relatively small one) dedicated to enterprise applications.  They tell people this is appropriate for an enterprise to use despite the “beta” tag on it. 

So take your pick Google: you can have an enterprise development team and charge real money for GAPE or you can provide a fun, free, buggy, kinda secure (just through obscure URLs) web app.  But not both.

What Microsoft Office 14 Needs: A New, Separate SKU

March 15, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Posted in Blogs, Content Management, Microsoft, Microsoft SharePoint, Office, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

Recently I posted some guesses as to what features Microsoft will put into Office 14’s content creation tools (the productivity suite consisting of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote).  But those were guesses about what Microsoft would do, not what they could do or should do. 

There’s a lot of interest in O14 since professional pundits (and swivel-chair pundits in fuzzy cubicles everywhere) want to speculate about whether the 800 pound gorilla known as Microsoft Office can be brought down by plucky upstarts like Google or Zoho, or free options like OpenOffice or IBM Symphony. But this speculation is misplaced.  I start the NextGen authoring section of my content creation seminar with a prediction:

If Microsoft is ever dethroned in the content creation market, it will not be because they were beat on features or marketing … it will be because of a fundamental shift in the content creation market for which they failed to adapt.

In other words, it is not Vendor X that will beat them by being cheaper or more feature rich.  It’s Suite X that will beat them with a different set of technologies that addresses a unique but growing subset of content creators.  There is a fundamental shift in how content is being created.  It has bubbled up from old concepts such as collaborative editing and been picked up by web 2.0 and its Gen Y adherents who think in rapidly produced, hyperlinked, searchable content chunks instead of ponderous, static, e-mailed documents. I introduced the NextGen content creation trends here (with further description here).  This is how I see the content creation environment today:

Next gen trends fig1 bg

Note that I chose to visualize this as a central core being expanded by these new needs rather than a versioning depiction such as 1.0 —> 2.0.  That’s because the core needs will always exist in enterprises, but we need to acknowledge a new set of needs that is not well met by the core authoring tools and that will account for an increasing percentage of content creation as Gen Y’ers enter the workforce and information workers get used to authoring in new ways via blogs and wikis.

We are at an inflection point in the way content is being created.  Microsoft would be unwise to pass up this opportunity to segment the market.  Microsoft may be able to get through one more major version of Office by stretching traditional document-related technology to fit.  But this anchors their attempts to address new content creation needs to a 1990’s document-centric mindset.  By carving out a new target market, they build incremental revenue (most buyers of this suite would still have needs for core Office as well), plant the seeds for a new franchise that would be small but grow more rapidly than Office, and compete better with innovative vendors that are unencumbered by entrenched bureaucracy and sunk costs.  And all while helping to mitigate the bloat and complexity of Office by separating out features that will be unused or confusing for many core Office users. There’s a chance that this would cannibalize Office 14 upgrades, but my instinct is that it would make no or a minor short term loss (since the new target market is small) and pay for itself within the next two versions of Office. It could be rolled out on half-cycles with Office to help avoid cannibalization and steady the famously spiky revenue stream and attention that Office releases garner.

Accordingly, I argue that Microsoft should create a new product (a SKU in industry parlance) for the NextGen content tools rather than continually trying to bolt onto Office Pro.  It could be called Office Extended, although some more thinking would elicit a more clever term.  Here’s how I would start:

  • OneNote would shift over to anchor the new suite.  With new branding and development, it can finally stand up as a new type of content platform that allows for content components, real-time collaborative authoring, and improved linking rather than just being a productivity add-on aimed at students and meeting notes.  OneNote will only be truly understood to represent a different paradigm when it breaks the chain it has to the Office Home and Student suite
  • The Live Writer blogging tool would finally get a real home here
  • Microsoft would have a place to create a real wiki rather than the SharePoint template that stands in as the official “Microsoft wiki” for lack of anything better.  No one – not even SharePoint folks – asserts that SharePoint’s wikis are in the league of any best of breed tools, and I can’t think why Microsoft would not want to compete for a best of breed wiki any less than they want to have a best of breed browser.  And remember the pain that being too slow to recognize a “good enough” 80/20 browser wasn’t enough caused them.
  • Microsoft would take an 80/20 swipe at the XML content creation market with a new Xmetal-like tool, much as they grabbed a new low end of the records management market with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007

And that’s just a start.  Part of the idea is to give this new market segment a new matching suite to grow with.  This idea fits Microsoft’s software+services direction since a few of these products (wikis and blogs) are not purely client-based, so services are needed.  I guarantee the evolution of content creation is not over, so the new SKU provides a place with plenty of room to stretch and grow new creation mechanisms the market demands without having to add a 14th pound of flour to the 10 pound bag of Office.

Note: This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

Some Un-educated Guesses about Office 14

March 12, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Content Management, Information Work, Microsoft, Office | Leave a comment

I posted some guesses about what will be in Office 14 over at the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.  As I said there, these are totally un-educated guesses since I haven’t been briefed on it yet.  Here’s the quick summary of my guesses on the productivity part:


  • Breaking down some barriers in moving content to/from the web
  • Better leveraging / integration of OneNote
  • Tighter SharePoint integration with the productivity side of Office
  • Better use of XML schemas
  • Better tagging and use of controlled vocabulary across the suite
  • Web editors with Silverlight
  • Real-time collaborative editing

All well and good, but I’ll be doing another posting on what I think they could do with Office.  Here’s a hint: It involves a new SKU (product that you pay for) …

Don’t Touch My Wallet: Convincing Management that Smart Companies in Recessions Increase Spending on [IT, training, advertising, etc.]

February 26, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Posted in business case, collaboration, communication, Content Management, Recession | Leave a comment

The recession has proven to be a boon to writers of articles and blog postings you can email to your executives about how whatever domain they are experts in (like customer relations folks or training people) is critical to avoid cutting and maybe even increase spending on it like other smart companies do.

In researching how the recession is impacting my domain (information technology, and communication, collaboration, and content technology in particular) I was pleased to find articles saying that should really get more budget in tight times. Wonderful! 

… But then I decided to check and see what other domains were saying about recessionary spending. After trolling dozens of sites on other domains like customer relationship management, training, marketing I noticed a familiar pattern – they all say they are smart places to spend too. Needless to say I did not find any articles from domain experts saying “In a recession, our department’s budget should be cut” or “Companies that come out of a recession stronger are those that cut spending in our department”. Instead every department has become the business equivalent of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon. At Wobegon Corporation every department provides greater than average returns on investments in recessionary times.  Everyone can’t be right, so who is right that spending in their domain should increase during recessions (please let it be portals!) ?

The “Don’t Touch My Wallet” (DTMW) script

There are arguments and articles that rise above the fray – I’ll get to them at the end. But the bulk of them fall into a script I’ll call the “Don’t Touch My Wallet” (DTMW) script. There are a standard set of key elements you’ll find in a DTMW article.

The “Don’t touch my wallet” (DTMW) statement

The metaphor

The motivational pablum

The survey

The articles often quote a survey that shows organizations who spent more on their domain in a recession did better than their peers. They generally don’t reveal enough about their methodology to truly evaluate their findings, but these surveys feel fixed for 3 reasons:

  1. They are almost exclusively sponsored by organizations with a vested interest in the domain and would be unlikely to publish the results if they showed cutting costs to be a more effective strategy.
  2. The mere fact the surveyed organizations were in a position to increase spending in a recession indicates companies with comparatively better financials (compared to their peer group). Of course companies that go into a recession financially stronger are more likely to come out of it stronger.
  3. Just surveying those companies that increased spending in one domain is a self-selecting sample. Companies that increased spending on a particular domain already determined it is important for their type of business. For example, companies that doubled advertising expenditures in a recession are probably those that know they are in industries where advertising gets high leverage (like image-related consumer goods), while those in unimpressionable markets (like mining) would probably not bother to increase the minimal ad spending they have. So blanket statements that say “companies that increase ad spending in recessions do better” are not as universally applicable as they imply.

A good study should be sponsored by an institution that doesn’t have a stake in the results and examines both sides of the coin: winners and losers, companies who started in good or bad financial condition, companies that increased or decreased spending in the domain.

Principles about spending in a recession

Reading all these DTMW articles did help me uncover some underlying principles about spending in a recession. These are scary times. I don’t begrudge anyone trying to make the case for their domain (and, by proxy, their job). Quite the contrary, it’s everyone’s responsibility in tough times to think about the value their role brings. Where small investments can provide leverage in these conditions, you should make the case for them, throwing them into the marketplace of ideas with the understanding that everyone else is doing the same. With every experts in every domain publishing a DTMW script, running to your executive with a request for more money attached to an article backing up increased spending is likely to be laughed at when every department is making the same argument.

If you have money to spend in a recession that your competitors don’t, you’ll get more leverage anywhere you spend it wisely: IT, training, customer service, etc. Industries have different leverage points (elasticity) where a dollar of recession spending added or removed has a multiplicative effect on profitability. Don’t accept blanket statements across all industries about where that elasticity exists (e.g., “All companies should increase sales travel rather than cutting it when times get tough”). The key is to understand the dynamics of your industry and firm and select the correct points of leverage.

Recessions can shake organizations up for the better – they force organizations to cut waste, improve efficiency, be more aware of what they are doing and why. That last point (what you’re doing and why) brings me to portfolio management. In a recession, as at all times, portfolio management theory applies. This theory says organizations should allocate spending to categories – usually these three: running, growing, and transforming the business. Then all initiatives should be categorized accordingly and evaluated against each other.

So first, keep the lights on. Assuming you have some money left after that, understand there is a portfolio of incremental improvement projects and transformational projects that should be evaluated as a whole. The DTMW articles make the mistake of bypassing reasonable portfolio management discipline to make the argument that one should just jump to spending more on their pet domain without analyzing its relation to other projects in the portfolio. Spending more on domain A may indeed have a high return.  But if spending on domains B, C, and D have an even higher return, spending on A wouldn’t be a wise move without money to cover all four domains. 

So how do you do this right?  After hours of reading DTMW articles, it was a joy to finally find one that stated the case for its domain (web design) properly, succinctly, and with a professional level of humility.  This may not grab the attention of the CFO, but it will withstand reasonable scrutiny once investigated further:

Is web design really worth spending money on now, when money’s so short? It depends on your circumstances, but we think you should give it serious consideration.


So my conclusion is that, despite what DTMW articles say, smart companies are not the ones that blindly increase spending in one domain just because other companies do (it’s a self-selecting sample) or because a logical argument can be made for the importance of spending in that domain (all domains have differing elasticity based on industry and individual factors). Recessions give smart companies an opportunity to gain an edge by selectively outspending their competition in key domains. They select the domains by digging harder into the data and applying portfolio management discipline.

Back to my domain of IT, I posted previously about a Diamond Management and Technology Consultants study. While it is from a company with a stake in IT spending, I like the fact that they looked at companies that underperformed as well as outperformed. And their high-level advice fits the “be selective” mantra:

The central lesson of our research is that at the very time when a leader is tempted to shorten his or her time horizon and make simple across-the-board cuts, superior performers dig into the data and act more intelligently than the competition.

Component-Oriented Authoring: The Journey Begins with the First Step

February 20, 2009 at 11:21 am | Posted in Content Management, Information Work, Office, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

I highly recommend an eWeek series by Eric Severson on component-based authoring (see part 1, part 2, part 3).  Eric notes how the content creation tools that came of age in the 1980’s are becoming an anachronism in today’s world of expectations for searchable, fresh information.  New  content creation technologies such as blogs, wikis, and easily updatable website are often a better fit for these new needs.

Eric makes a great case for why component-oriented authoring is needed.  But he explores the more well-trodden path of technical and product documentation.  While this does encompass the current sweet spot for component-oriented content creation (and vendors and service providers that implement XML-based content and DITA), I find it more interesting to explore how the sweet spot is expanding.  Technical writers know they are professional authors.  But when does this start hitting the average information worker who doesn’t think of herself as a professional writer, but in fact writing underpins a large amount of what she does?

That question leads to another: Who addresses the gap between the current XML content creation tools (which require significant setup of schemas by people experienced in XML or training on DITA) and the current productivity tools (like Word, where “anything goes”)?  Within that gap lie “lightly structured” or “occasionally structured” documents that are partially unstructured but contain reusable and tagged components in places.

I recently did some research on component-based authoring for my overview “Content Authoring in the Enterprise 2.0 Age” (non-clients can see a summary of the NextGen Content Creation trends here).  Microsoft folks demonstrated to me how Word can be stretched to cover this space with a bit of programming and some slightly awkward UI.  And JustSystems XMeTaL folks described how their tool could be stretched to cover documents with less structure by creating a custom schema.  But you’d still have a separation of authoring, formatting, and publishing that makes sense in large scale, but is onerous at small scale content production.  It’s not an XMeTaL issue – the same applies to other XML authoring tools generally used in structured content creation environments such as Altova XMLSpy, Arbortext Editor, BroadVision QuickSilver, PTC Arbortext, and Stylus Studio.

Until the bridge in the middle is built, a few content authors will continue to fly from the unstructured to structured worlds, but the mass of authors will struggle to make do with their existing tools while waiting for an easier way to take that first semi-structured step in a longer journey.

Note: This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

Complimentary Burton Group Public Seminar: The Present and Future of Content Creation

February 11, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Content Management, Enterprise 2.0, Information Work, Microsoft, Office, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment

For those of you in the Chicago area I wanted to point out a free seminar I’ll be doing in March.  I hope to see you there.

Complimentary Burton Group Public Seminar
Hosted by: Baxter Credit Union

The Present and Future of Content Creation

Wednesday, March 11, 2008 from 9:00 AM until 11:30 AM
Baxter Credit Union
340 North Milwaukee Avenue
Vernon Hills, IL 60061
Click here for map

Seminar Attendees Receive Complimentary Report
Productivity Suite Proliferation: Is It Time to Ditch Microsoft Office?
by Guy Creese

Content Authoring in the Enterprise 2.0 Age
By Craig Roth

Featuring Presentations by Burton Group Analyst: Craig Roth

Craig Roth, Service Director for Collaboration and Content Strategies, will describe how new content authoring, collaboration, aggregating, publishing, and searching technologies are impacting the writing process, and the challenges on the horizon for content authoring in the Enterprise 2.0 age.

Productivity Suite Proliferation: Is it Time to Ditch Microsoft Office?
Microsoft Office has long dominated the productivity suite market. While it still “owns” the market, enterprises looking for a product for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations now have many alternatives to pick from. This overview will look at software (e.g., WordPerfect,, and Lotus Symphony) and SaaS alternatives (e.g., Google Apps, Think Free, and Zoho) and discuss whether now is the time to replace Microsoft Office and put something else in its place.

Will the Traditional Productivity Suite Still Matter in 2010
Content authoring technology, such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, was originally just a tool that enabled the authoring process. However, with functional enhancements in the basic productivity suite, increased interest in brainstorming and mind-mapping tools, and the emergence of Web 2.0 authoring tools, it is now apparent that technology is changing how we write and what we write, even though information workers may not always be conscious of its effect.

Please RSVP by March 9, 2009 to: Curtis Carter at 801-304-8111 or

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