Semantic markup to the rescue

In the 1990s professional publishers were getting cut up worse than the weak kid at a knife fight. Today, news publishers are really bleeding out.

The world of electronic documents was disrupting paper-based publishing. New terms, new technologies, and new processes forced new business logic and strategies. CD-ROMs hit first. Many organizations made significant investments to reengineer their documents to rapidly-release CD-ROMs.

Then the web hit, with its wicked learning. Publishers asked themselves, How many times would this happen?How expensive would conversion costs be for each new technology cycle?How many different file formats will we need?How many different variations for different delivery devices?

Fortunately, the web came with the seeds of the solution. The format used for web documents, the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), was based on an international standard, the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). SGML defines rules for declaring, applying, and validating markup languages — a language for defining markup languages — a meta-language so to speak.

SGML was designed around the needs of document owners, authors, and publishers. It enables hub and spoke architectures to be implemented with authoritative, single sources of generalized markup that feed various delivery systems (CD-ROMs, web, etc.).