From generic to descriptive markup : implications for the academic author

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A4 Artikkeli konferenssijulkaisussa
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Electronic publishing is confronted with a multitude of demands and hopes, expressed by users on one hand, and by institutions on the other. One of the key issues concerns long-term availability of digital information. In addition, research findings indicate that users would like to place more detailed full-text information retrieval requests. Due to differing interests, some users focus their attention to figure captions, others in tables or bibliographies, to name just a few examples. Furthermore, there is a wish to deliver publications on many platforms, which asks for suitable mechanisms of combining information with different sets of output specifications. In all these three cases, the capabilities of todays desktop editors fall short. Yet they are among the most frequently used tools to produce scientific publications. It is claimed that the answer would lie in the use of structure-oriented editors and descriptive, platform-independent markup. But the move is not a trivial one. One of the first big challenges is the author himself. To what extent is he willing to modify his working habits? Does he accept the possibility of letting someone else define the layout of his work? Another major issue is the publication process. The nature of changes in workflow are as much organizational as they are technical. This paper describes some of the lessons learned in HUTpubl, a project conducted by the Helsinki University of Technology (HUT) Library. The goal of the project is to establish an SGML-based (Standard Generalized Markup Language) publishing model for HUT scientific publication series. The paper further elaborates on findings in other related projects and research activities.
electronic publishing, SGML, XML, publishing process, DTD, document type definitions
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