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1/16/2003
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Beefing Up The Meaning Of XML

XML conversion tool from CambridgeDocs promises to increase value of unstructured business content.

Companies are busily converting unstructured data into XML so it can be placed in content-management systems and enterprise applications, published on portals, or incorporated into Web services. But there are a number of problems that can make the results less than effective. Not only is it difficult to get different software vendors' XML formats to understand each other, but many XML conversions involve moving whole documents rather than breaking them into their individual elements.

A new XML conversion vendor, CambridgeDocs Inc., launched this week with that in mind. It introduces a conversion tool called xDoc XML Converter that it says will create "meaningful XML," which it defines as XML schema that are compatible with any application and that let employees access and use the separate elements of a piece of content. Rizwan Virk, co-founder and chief technology officer, says the technology also will let customers plug content directly into a Web service without having to write any custom code. "We're doing for unstructured data what EAI has done for structured data," Virk says.

Delphi Group analyst Hadley Reynolds says that's a somewhat grandiose claim, but he acknowledges there's a need for more-effective XML conversion tools. "There's no question that right now we're going through the getting-to-know-you stage with XML," Reynolds says. Still, he adds, a tool such as xDoc will be most useful in cases where content is earmarked for inclusion in business processes that support Web services. "The more structured you can make the document content," he says, "the more helpful it is to later applications."

The xDoc XML Converter is priced at $2,995 for a single-CPU license. A server-based version that will allow for multiple administrators is expected to be available by the end of March, and it will probably be priced at about $10,000.

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