RealTime IT News

Corel Soups Up XML Platform

Ottawa's Corel Corp. is giving no quarter to the likes of Microsoft and Adobe in the XML content creation and deployment space, rolling out a souped-up version of its XMetaL platform that adds support for the ActiveX technology.

By adding support for Microsoft's ActiveX technology, Corel's new XMetaL 4 platform, Corel's pitch is to simplify the implementation of XML applications and extend XML authoring power to any ActiveX-compliant application, including Web browsers. The company touts XMetaL 4 as the only XML editing platform that supports dynamic validation for both DTDs and W3C Schemas.

"This is a big upgrade for us. We've created four components for both developers and end users," XMetaL product manager Shawn Henderson told internetnews.com, noting the simultaneous rollout of the Smart Graphics Studio, the latest iteration of Corel's technology that embeds XML data into images.

"Now, enterprise clients can create applications that will enable end users to create XML virtually anywhere," he added.

Henderson said pricing details of XMetaL4 would not be available until the product ships in early 2003.

He said new support for ActiveX would push XML content creation beyond the traditional word-processor environments and allow XML editing to take place virtually anywhere. "[This] competes against traditional word-processors trying to get enterprises to move from an unstructured format to a structured XML format," Henderson explained.

The Corel XMetaL upgrade, which was unveiled at the XML 2002 Conference and Exposition in Baltimore, comes just days after rival Adobe rolled out its Document Server and Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions, the latest server-side tools being marketed to clients looking to integrate enterprise applications with document workflows.

With the Microsoft also competing in the space through its XDocs XML-based application, Corel could find the going tough when XMetaL 4 ships next year.

Henderson conceded XMetaL was "relatively similar" to XDocs but argued it could seen as complementary because its all XML-based. "If you create an XML document in XDocs, you can move it around to our interface. We are providing tight integration with content management systems to chunk up documents, re-use documents or easily update documents," he added.

At its heart, XDocs is being styled by Microsoft as an XML authoring tool designed to help businesses capture data. Microsoft spokesperson Catherine Brooker told internetnews.com XDocs would let users create rich text forms that teammates can use to capture all their information through a single interface. "With XDocs, users will be able to define how they want the information entered, as well as how it should be used by back end systems throughout the company," Brooker said.

Within XDocs, all the data is saved and stored using the XML standard, which clears the way for the data to be distributed and used by any backend system that supports XML, including CRM, and ERP systems.

For Corel, the strategy is a four-prong approach targeting both developers and end users. Henderson said the XMetaL 4 platform, which will be marketed primarily to high-end enterprises, would include four components -- Corel XMetaL Author, Corel XMetaL for ActiveX, Corel XMetaL Developer and Corel XMetaL Central.

The XMetaL Author is an XML authoring environment that lets users create well-formed XML documents. It includes writing tools featured in Corel Ventura and WordPerfect Office as well as support for DTDs and Schema. The XMetaL for ActiveX authoring interface lets developers embed into any ActiveX-compliant Windows application, including Web browsers.

Corel's XMetaL Developer is styled as a development environment for creating XMetaL customizations and applications. It is designed as a plug-in Microsoft Visual Studio.NET and lets developers use existing Web programming skills in Script, COM and DOM to create customizations for both XMetaL Author and XMetaL for ActiveX.

The Developer component also allows the creation and edition of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and includes the Corel XMetaL Forms Toolkit for creating custom forms interfaces.

Henderson said the XMetaL Central component provides a server-based XML environment management tool that looks to simplify deployment and maintenance of XML applications across an organization.

The Canada-based firm also unveiled the Smart Graphics Studio development platform which promises to speed up the creation of SVG-based smart graphics -- a new form of graphics-rich Web applications.