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Practical Internet Groupware by Jon Udell

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Storing Docbase Records

In the Docbase system described here and in Chapter 7, the repository format coincides with the delivery format. The same set of HTML pages serves both purposes. This differs from the BYTE Magazine docbase we explored in Chapter 5; in that case, a translator read the repository format and wrote deliverable pages.

Why use one versus the other? The BYTE docbase had a fairly complex format but was batch-oriented and maintained by a single production expert who exported material from QuarkXPress and then massaged it to meet a detailed repository specification. There was no need to preview individual pages or validate input interactively, and although a tool could have provided these features, it would have been costly to build and maintain.

The Virtual Press Room, by contrast, had a relatively simple format and was built interactively by many untrained users. These users required an authoring tool that did validate and preview the information they supplied. Because the format was simple, that tool was cheap to build and maintain. Since the preview pages had to be produced immediately, it was convenient to just store them as is.

In the Docbase system, the deliverable HTML pages can be XML pages too, if you format the docbase template as XML. When the two formats coincide, HTML pages are much more manageable than they otherwise would be. The Virtual Press Room was, like the BYTE docbase, a pre-XML-era invention. Had I built it in 1999 rather than 1995, I’d have ...

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