Portable formatted documents are getting a boost from some new Java-powered software applications that are optimized for reading over the Internet or intranets. Largely the domain of Adobe Acrobat’s Portable Document Format (PDF), new Java developments look to give Acrobat a run for its money. Java’s object-oriented architecture is ideal for extending these Java document containers and viewers with classes that can control access and re-use as the document is being browsed.
Hummingbird Communications Ltd., of North York, Ontario, has introduced, in Common Ground 4.0, a Windows NT-based, automated intranet publishing solution that allows universal document viewing by any Java-enabled browser. Common Ground has been the traditional competitor to Adobe’s PDF; much like PDFs, CommonGround’s DigitalPaper (DP) files are created by printing with a special printer driver.
The latest edition of Common Ground’s Web Publisher features NetResults, a Java-based search and indexing engine, which can index any HTML, DigitalPaper, or text document. Printing and posting to a Web server happens by just dragging and dropping to one of multiple directories that are monitored by the DigitalPaper Express utility. Targeted at intranets, but also suitable for general Internet use, Common Ground’s DigitalPaper Viewer allows the DP files to be viewed seamlessly, without the need for an installed helper application. Common Ground’s WebPublishing System also allows users to insert hyperlinks, bookmarks, and pop-up windows, and it automatically generates and updates HTML navigation pages that link to the documents.
San Francisco, California-based Net-It Software Corporation has developed, in its jDoc technology, a “document delivery container” to allow sharing of formatted documents across the intranet and to manage end-user permissions and access. Net-It Now! 1.6’s drag-and-drop approach to printing and posting Windows documents is similar in strategy to Common Ground’s. Net-It Now! uses signed JAR security that is fully compliant with Netscape Communicator, and a limited-function version of the product is now bundled with that browser.
For producing portable Java documents on the Macintosh platform, J.Stream, of Vancouver, Washington–a business unit of DataPak Software, Inc.–offers WiredWrite. Scheduled for release in January 1998, with a Windows version planned for spring 1998 release, WiredWrite 1.0 for Macintosh produces a data-streamed document that maps fonts dynamically but still allows text to re-flow as in HTML. J.Stream calls its file format J.Press Document OPD). Unique words are mapped and indexed to produce a highly searchable document that can be smaller than a typical Word or PDF file. J.Stream president Dennis McNannay describes JPD as “ideal for large, text-intensive documents.”
Interleaf Inc.’s Xtreme is a Windows NT 4.0 Server application that leverages the Java in browsers to provide document viewing and management for its conversion and sharing environment. Xtreme converts most popular document formats, including ASCII text, MS Word 97, Lotus Word Pro 97, Corel WordPerfect 7, PDF, and Interleaf 6. Interleaf Xtreme features full-text searching and tear-off technology, which allows the user to keep one page or section of a document visible while viewing another page or section. For security, Xtreme provides secure access, revision control, distribution of nonrevisable files, and signed applets. Interleafs purchase of Jamba 2.0 from Asymetrix Learning Systems, Inc. will allow the company to offer a robust platform for what it is calling
Enterprise Active Publishing in its Xtreme Enterprise application, which is due to ship in second quarter 1998. In addition to employing Jamba as the front end for its publishing tools, Interleaf will continue to sell the Jamba authoring tool from its Web site, http://www.jamba.com.
What these tools’ emergence means is that the omnipresent Java environment is now providing a ready-made client for flexible and manageable formatted documents that can be relied upon as needed by interested publishers. Such developments bring home the reality–and the savings–of electronic publishing.