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Editorial and Advertising Systems
IN OUR OVERVIEW of the show in our last issue, we noted some of the developments regarding editorial and advertising systems. They included the idea that the American newspaper market is starting to realize that there may be life without Word and Xpress, for those who place a higher priority on tight integration than on using off-the-shelf software components.
As we pondered that situation, we came up with our Big Four vendors of pagination systems in the market today. Interestingly, they use a variety of different software modules for editing and pagination, and they came from a variety of places: one from the U.S. (Harris), one from Australia (Cybergraphic) and two from Europe (CCI and Unisys). Their stories follow.
NT in charge. Another notable development was the dwindling support for the Macintosh as Windows NT comes on strong in the role of server platform. (NT and Windows 95 seem to be sharing the client role.)
Our review of the systems on display at Nexpo will note again the predominance of NT, not only among the larger systems mentioned in our last issue, but also among the smaller system vendors. Both Freedom System Integrators and Advanced Publishing Technologies, which offer two of the more popular systems for smaller and medium-size newspapers, featured NT systems with SQL databases.
Baseview still leads Macs. Bucking the NT trend is still Baseview, which offers a Macintosh system that is installed in 1,800 sites, the company says, and currently appears to be outselling Quark's QPS handily. Quark's goal of selling more systems than all other vendors combined has proved to be elusive. Although Quark claims to have increased its customer base by 40% in the last year, its sales total to date is barely 350 systems.
In any event, it appears that FSI, APT, Baseview and Quark are solidly in control in this market, although ESE finally may be ready to pose a challenge. One of the primary players of the past, especially in the classified market may be falling by the wayside. Synaptic Micro Solutions failed to show up and use its booth.
Integrators at large. Integrators are playing an ever larger role in the industry, led by Computer Network Integrators (CNI), with its 70 or so customers, as American Computer Innovators (ACI) and Electronic Data Systems (EDS) try to catch up.
Classified pagination next time. We were unable to get our report on classified pagination here, so it will follow next time.
APT shows NT, SQL, new Classified
Advanced Publishing Technology had important news both in sales and in product development. First, the company's effort to penetrate the newspaper groups is paying off. Second, it showed a system running completely in an NT server environment with a Microsoft SQL database engine. APT said it also supports Oracle and Sybase. The new operating environment will enable APT to address larger papers, with circulations up to 100,000. It also will help to streamline customer service. With these new application modules built around the same database, a customer can make one call and deal with both classified ads and accounts receivable. (A new Accounts Receivable package integrated with classified and display advertising was introduced in Las Vegas.) Effective with the next release, APT says, callers will be able to deal also with circulation issues in the same call.
Sales. On the sales front, APT fulfilled a goal it expressed at last year's show: to make serious headway in selling systems to newspaper groups. It reported orders from six groups:
* Gannett--the Marion (IN) Chronicle-Tribune (circ. 20,000) and the Danville (IL) Commercial-News (circ. 22,000), with a possibility of several more this year.
* Freedom Communications--a group of newspapers in Texas using a Dewar System IV. APT is interfaced to the Dewar database.
* Park Communications--the Waynesboro (VA) News-Virginian (circ. 10,000).
* Media General--six sites acquired from Worrell.
* World Newspapers--Kearney (NB) hub (circ. 14,000)
* Cahners Publications--The Daily Variety (CA) (circ. 25,000)
These sales bring to 40 the number of customer sites using APT systems, of which all 40 are running editorial, 18 classified and ten business applications.
APT also announced that it has hired Ken Barber, formerly of Unified Publishing Systems, to head up the Northeast office.
DewarLink for editorial customers. Three of the editorial customers are now running under NT. The key new development for editorial users is DewarLink, which was developed for Freedom Communications. It enables a group of papers in Texas to continue to use existing Dewar System IV configurations alongside ACT systems. A reporter or editor can open a window into a Dewar database and "drag and drop" stories into ACT. APT expects to find a market for Dewar users wanting to use the ACT pagination program. It estimates that there are 35-40 Dewar System IV customers in the field. The Dewar interface was the first one APT developed because of the Freedom order in Texas, but it plans to add interfaces to other systems in the future.
Classified revamped. The classified program has been extensively revised. Changes include the development of an integrated word processor, a new screen display for the ad form, an interface to an inexpensive scanner for handling faxed ads and software for putting ads on the Internet. The integrated word processor enables APT to match the H&J of the Xpress pagination program much more closely than it could be matched using a program like Word, which makes it possible to price ads accurately while taking them over the phone. That had been a problem with its earlier approach, which used Word with Xpress. The new program H&J's the file and sends forced line endings to Xpress, thus maximizing the chance that the results will be the same.
In the adtaker's display, APT has followed a trend common in the industry these days by using fewer screens to show the required information. It now displays the text of the ad on the screen next to the ad form. The new look also features an attractive, easy-to-use calendar. An enhanced pricing routine supports more ad types (including, for example, nonprofit organizations) and enables the cross-selling of display ads and classifieds. User-selectable rate codes and customer contracts are now available. If a customer inquires about a price, the adtaker can call up the rate formula used to calculate the price and explain it. Alternatively, the adtaker can use the formula to quote prices for other combinations of ads.
APT has added support for OPI so low-resolution versions of ads can be used on the screen and swapped for high-resolution versions on output. A system of hot folders is available to move ads through the workflow and to purge them. The purge routine deletes both low- and high-resolution versions.
Another new capability is support for the Visioneer Paperport scanner and Caere OmniPage OCR software to enable classified departments to receive ads by fax and convert them to editable text for publication. The screen displays the text so the user can correct any OCR errors and enter typographic information.
Creating Web pages. A standard feature of the classified program is the capability of converting ads to HTML for posting on the Web. The ad section can be processed by classification or as an entire section. The initial implementation is quite basic, but APT plans to add enhancements to give the user control over setup parameters, placing boxes around ads, specifying defaults for fields such as the advertiser's city, and so on.
Ad dummying. APT has added features to its ad dummying program, but the best is yet to come, we were told. New this year are features enabling the user to control the percentage of pages that can contain ads, the ability to flow the ad section with space reservations for ads that haven't arrived yet, and a verify routine to inform the operator of any ads that have been placed outside the printing area. However, next year the program will be on a par with the best ones available in the industry, APT said.
Pricing. An ACT system is priced at $10,000 for the server software and $1,000 per workstation for editorial or classified software, not including Word and network software.
ATS unveils NewsDesk, AdVisor
Advanced Technical Solutions unveiled what were effectively two new systems--one each for editorial and advertising. We had seen the Osiris editorial system many times, but this year it had such significant changes that it has been renamed the NewsDesk Publishing System. It is now fully ODBC compliant, although Sybase is the database of choice. Previously the product had used the Agile WorkBase database. The new database runs with an NT server, but the hardware platform is open to a variety of different systems. All clients run on PCs under Windows.
Overall the system looks very much like similar systems with a customizable, spreadsheet-like view of the database that is viewable from within the editing and pagination systems. The editor is a customized version of Word. Pagination is done using Xpress. However, there are some significant differences from other Word-Xpress products.
Pagination with or without Xpress. First, there is an alternative to Xpress for pagination: ATS QuikLayout, a full layout and pagination system. Page layouts are planned in QuikLayout by creating or placing geometry and styles on the page. This can be done either by creating shapes or by dragging predefined shapes and styles (furniture) onto the page from libraries. These shapes are compatible with Xpress shapes. (Xpress also can be used for planning pages.)
A reporter working in Word can write copy to fit these shapes.
Second, ATS has its own composition system, StyleDesk, so if the page is fully made up and output from QuikLayout, it doesn't require using Xpress's composition capabilities. Alternatively, pages can be finished in Xpress using Xpress's composition.
A key benefit of having this full composition system available through Word is that accurate headfitting can be done within Word. But if Xpress is to be used for composition, Xpress recomposes all text because it currently isn't possible to "lock" the results of the ATS composition operation and send forced line breaks into Xpress.
A second benefit of this approach is that the use of predefined page elements means that elements can be locked, thus allowing multiple users to work on the same page in Xpress at the same time.
Overall, the ATS pagination options are excellent in that they allow most pages that have straightforward, rectangular elements to be output directly from QuikLayout, while pages that have more complex shaping requirements can go through Xpress. It is possible to import ad dummies from other systems, currently including Atex Architect and SCS Layout-8000.
Status. StatusDesk is a separate application that can run on a pagination workstation or on a separate workstation. It supports a large monitor to allow many people to view the progress of pagination. Here, pages display geometry with different colors to show status. It continually monitors the database, changing dynamically as the status changes. Multiple pages can be viewed at one time, and a running display at the bottom of the screen shows the status of all pages. For handling images within the editorial workstation the Image Handling module allows for basic viewing, cropping, scaling and rotation of images. This is similar to the Unisys Hermes system. It enables the normal editorial work on images to be done without the complications of using Photoshop.
In perspective. The new ATS NewsDesk Publishing System is well thought out and well implemented. In some ways it reminds us of the P.Ink system--the customizable database, and the dual composition routes through a layout application and Xpress.
The first system has been sold to the Nashua (NH) Telegraph. It will comprise a pair of NT file servers with a Sybase database, linked to 44 PCs over a 100-megabit/sec. Fast Ethernet network.
Advertising with AdVisor. Also new from ATS is AdVisor, a classified ad booking system running on a platform similar to the editorial system's. It runs with a Sybase database under NT or Unix. Clients run under Windows 95. Workstation software, which requires 16 MB of RAM, is written in Visual Basic. Part of this application--the desktop view of the database-- is accessible to qualified operators so they can fully customize all the screens. The system is undergoing beta testing and should be running live in September.
As they are in a number of other new advertising systems, text editing and composition are done using Word. As an alternative in the future, the ATS StyleDesk composition routine will be accessible from within Word.
Word templates, which are associated with specific publications, are used to handle ad styles. The pricing algorithm--again like that of some other new systems--is written in Excel and Visual Basic, making it easy for users to customize rate structures. Similarly, generation of custom reports using Crystal Reports is easy, as is building the ad manifest to pass to ad dummying systems.
The screen displays are effective, using folders and tabs to move to different phases of the ad booking process (like the internal setup of most Microsoft applications).
From what we saw, this new system looks promising, although many items remain to be added, including the handling of ROP display advertising, alternate quoting of ads, links to commercial systems and the provision of a contact-driven canvassing system.
AdSearch. ATS also unveiled an innovative application for building searchable advertising over the Internet, starting from existing advertising databases. This capability will be covered under Miles 33 (see p. 35), which developed the system in the UK. ATS has the U.S. distribution rights.
Agile: Newsweek system, Mac client
Nexpo was a very significant show for Agile Enterprise. It was its first exhibition since completing the installation of a 240-seat Teambase system at Newsweek, where it will replace an aging Atex system. The new system uses twin 133-MHz Pentium PCs for servers and 120-MHz Pentiums for clients. The network runs under Netware 4, and one of the two servers works as a backup under SFT3.
Overall, the system looks impressive and seems to fit well the role of an Atex replacement. (Agile, after all, was founded by former Atex personnel.) The system has been set up to replicate most parts of the Atex workflow and it uses Atex codes for functions. (We understand that some of the Newsweek desk editors are such die-hard Atex devotees that they have never used a mouse and don't intend ever to use one.)
The system reflects the way the Atex system has been used to produce the magazine. However, that isn't to say that the Agile system has to work in this way. We were advised that it can be customized to replicate other systems or to be used as a straight TeamBase system.
Teambase. In its basic form, as we have reported in the past, TeamBase runs standard Word and Xpress software in the workstation, plus a specialized database approach using modules from Faircom. Certain aspects of the database are held in the servers and others are held in each workstation on the network. The view of the database is provided through Excel, which allows for a very customizable approach to what we used to refer to as directories. It could be said that Teambase fits somewhere between a fully open, shrink-wrapped package using a standard database, at one extreme, and a partially proprietary system at the other.
One thing that is certain, though, is that, whatever you call it, it is very slick in operation. In the Atex tradition, it is set up to handle key editorial functions very well, linking Word functions to specialized macros and routines. This is exemplified in the handling of revision levels for articles and the use of "reference sets" to give virtual views of items in directories. It employs browsers to look at these reference sets, which allows rapid viewing of partial stories in a "copy-tasting" mode, as our British colleagues call it.
Mac client. The latest development is a port of the client application to the Macintosh (movement against the flow these days, as most ports seem to be from the Mac to Windows).
The Mac currently doesn't offer the full functionality of the Windows version because of differences with the Mac Excel application in linking to other applications. The Mac version currently uses special browsers to view the database. Agile says its next big installation will use a large number of Macintoshes.
ACI shows Dynamic Pagination
American Computer Innovators returned this year with a later version of the Open Pages system that made its debut last year. The key enhancement since last year is Dynamic Pagination, which ACI had announced last year as a forthcoming development. It is now here, as we will comment later. But first, we'll review the basic system architecture.
It is a database-driven editorial system built around Word and Xpress. Oracle provides the database. As we noted last year, ACI got where it is now by starting as a DewarView integrator, but saw limitations within DewarView and decided to build an alternative approach. A year later, after seeing the updated version, we'd say that its database structure appears better than DewarView's, providing automatic updating of data among the different applications, but that the integration, file handling and directory functions aren't as good as DewarView's. The links between applications lack the seamlessness of DewarView.
Our conclusions here are based on what we saw and what we were told at the show in answer to questions. However, when we presented our views to ACI after the event, we were told that some key features exist in the system that would change our views. Since we didn't see them, though, it is difficult for us to evaluate them.
File access procedures. Word and Xpress are linked through a database profile screen that automatically fills in certain information when data are being saved to the database. This form is fully editable in terms of the fields in the database that are accessible. There is also a "quick retrieve" option for reading data, which brings up a list of the latest items used. Built into the system is a capability for searching the whole database. Standard searches may be defined and saved for regular use in Quick Search (using a feature similar to one of Baseview's).
The system handles multiple versions, with a provision for comments to be added with the version when a save comes up. This shows also a list of available versions of each article.
Access to the database is provided through a standard directory structure that is spreadsheet-like in nature. We didn't see multiple forms of directories, although we were advised that they are possible. We were told after the show that the view can be customized to show different amounts of text, up to the first 255 characters. It is possible to show this text outside the access form if space is a problem, ACI said afterward.
Of greater concern, in our eyes, was that we didn't see a fast, easy means of copy tasting, such as the automatic opening of stories successively as the cursor moves down the directory. In our demonstration, Open Pages required that the operator use the conventional manual facility for opening stories. However, here, too, ACI told us after the show that such a quick view is available. We can't comment on the implementation.
The system offers a facility for checking stories in and out of the database, such as to work on the road from a portable or to send a file over a communications network or via an electronic-mail system. When an article is checked in, it automatically updates the database through its document profile.
Dynamic Pagination. In a similar fashion to most systems that use Word, Open Pages provides Word macros for composition functions. Other macros handle filing and routing of copy at the time it is saved. Although the approach is good, we believe that ACI's implementation of Word macros isn't as fully functional as the implementations of some other firms using Word and Xpress.
ACI's approach focuses on doing final formatting and copyfitting in Xpress using a CopyFit Xtension. There is a Word macro, which wasn't shown to us, that compares the estimated depth in Word against the anticipated depth in Xpress.
Xpress provides the same database access as Word. Open Pages has developed what it calls Dynamic Pagination to assist in building pages automatically from the database. The input from an ad reservation system automatically places ads on pages and into the database. Xpress is used to build the layout.
Another function, called Dynamic Sked, builds the editorial budget and allocates articles to pages. Articles can be selected from the Queue View (a subset of the content management system) and linked to the budget. Templates are assigned to budgeted areas to format the articles. Articles that haven't been placed automatically can be listed and assigned to pages using the "place text element" command, which defines their size and shape. This command encompasses the number of legs, column width, headline specs, etc.
After these items have been specified, pages should build themselves dynamically and update the database as they do so. This feature can take into account the needs of different zones and editions.
The use of the database enables tracking of workflow because every item has to be booked into and out of the database. In this way, Open Pages also can handle the management of display ads, logos and graphics.
Open Pages works with Windows 3.1, 95 and NT and with the Macintosh.
Baseview tracks pages, manages ROP ads
Baseview Products, which continues to sell its Macintosh systems at an impressive rate in spite of Apple's problems, introduced some important new capabilities to broaden its system functionality. The key ones are a page-tracking program that provides a quick status report on how various pages stand with respect to deadlines; an enhanced ad management product that handles both classified and display ads in the same database; a hot- backup capability; and an interface to the Phrasea image and text archival system.
PageWatch IQue. Baseview has added a deadline field to its database, which enables it to track progress of Xpress pages with respect to the deadline. Deadlines can be set for each page. (There are no facilities for tracking separately the stories, photos and other elements on pages. They pick up the same deadlines as their page. Baseview said it may consider giving separate deadlines to page components in a later release.)
Deadlines are set manually for each page. At any time, an editor has four ways to determine the deadline status of any page:
* Thumbnail view. A display of page thumbnails shows the status of each page, represented by a thermometer whose length and color indicate how far the page is from its deadline--before or after. (This feature only deals with time from deadline. It doesn't show which pages are in use or what kind of activity might be under way on the way.) The particular pages that are displayed in this thumbnail view depend on the editor, who can ask for a section, a range of pages, all pages appearing a certain date, etc.
* Page view. It is possible to select one page from the thumbnail view and get a larger representation of elements on the page. This view is basically just a larger view of the thumbnail, although it also indicates items that have been assigned to the page but not yet placed.
* IQue Inspector view. For each page and each element there is a palette, called the IQue Inspector, that indicates the deadline for that item (the element inherits the deadline from its page) and whether or not the deadline has been met. To see this view, the operator clicks on the page or element in the page view.
* List view. In place of the page view, the system will display a list of pages and elements, including the status, priority and deadline for each one. The list view includes stories that have been assigned to a page but not yet placed.
In general, Baseview has done a nice job with its tracking feature. The graphic displays are nice. The use of color is helpful. The option of a list view is essential for use in certain situations.
Keep in mind, though, that PageWatch begins tracking only when an element is assigned to a page, making it an Xpress tracker, not a tracker of the entire editorial process. That is, it isn't a tool for an editor assigning stories to reporters.
Also note that, although Baseview's use of a thermometer and colors is good for indicating how close pages are to deadline, there isn't a similar means of determining how close to deadline individual stories and photos are. The thumbnail and page views show the status of each element, but they don't tell if a story is five minutes from deadline or five hours from deadline. That can be determined by looking at the Inspector palette and calculating the difference between the present time and the deadline.
Nor is it possible to get a listing of all stories that are, say, 15 minutes from deadline. However, a search can be made for all pages that are late, have an "incomplete" status or a combination of the two. Those suggestions shouldn't detract from the well-thought-out implementation of page tracking. PageWatch IQue will be a welcome addition for most users.
PageWatch IQue was making its initial appearance at a show. It is scheduled for release in October and is priced at $495.
AdManagerPro. Baseview has taken the ClassManagerPro package it introduced last year and replaced it with an enhanced version that supports display ads in addition to classified ads. Called AdManagerPro, it is a completely rewritten software package that uses the same database for all types of ads--classified liners, classified display ads and ROP display ads. This not only makes it possible to consolidate billing and reporting of both classified and ROP ads, but also enables adtakers to deal more efficiently with advertisers placing multiple types of ads.
AdManagerPro has Baseview's accounting system built in, but alternatively it can be interfaced to other systems.
In conjunction with AdManagerPro, Baseview has introduced some enhancements, such as reducing the number of screen forms. The new main screen covers most functions, with optional screens to handle items such as overrides. Within the main screen, buttons are divided into categories by function. The WYSIWYG ad window displays classified ads as they will appear on the page, with logos and graphics in place. Keyboard shortcuts serve as alternatives to most mouse operations.
To handle ROP ads, a new window appears in place of the WYSIWYG ad window used for inputting the text of classified ads. The ROP screen accommodates space reservation information such as the date, ad type, color to be used, edition, page number and so on, plus the salesperson booking the ad. The system supports pricing of classified and ROP ad packages.
Among the enhancements to the classified functionality is a new use of color with the ad-insertion calendar. It uses up to 13 colors to show factors such as when ads have been run in the past.
The file of booked ads can be fed into Managing Editor's ad-dummying program to place the ads and send the dummy back to the editorial system for page makeup. Classified pagination is provided by Baseview's ClassFlow.
ClassManagerPro, which was introduced last fall and has about 100 users, will be replaced by AdManagerPro when it is released this fall. AdManagerPro will be offered for the same price as ClassManagerPro, although using the features for ROP ads requires additional training, which will cost $700 per day for an unlimited number of people.
Hot backup. The new hot-backup feature automatically records all data on a separate server simultaneously with recording on the main server. In the case of a malfunction of the main server, the system automatically switches to the backup unit and notifies each user that the second server is to be used. When the main server is running again, the system manager issues the command to restore it as the main server.
In the past, Baseview has required that all data reside on the same server. With the hot-backup feature, separate volumes on the same server can be supported and index files can be kept on a RAM disk. Previously, all of the data had to reside in the same folder. The feature will be available in October. Price will vary per seat, depending on the client.
Phrasea interface. Baseview has acquired the rights to distribute the Phrasea photo and text archiving system among its customers. Baseview said it planned to provide tight integration between its system modules and Phrasea. Baseview's existing Transporter software will be used to move stories from the database to the archive and vice versa. As of the show, Baseview was already taking orders for Phrasea, and it was scheduled to install its first system, in
Ventura, CA, soon after Nexpo. (For more on Phrasea, see our section on archiving.)
CirculationRemote. Baseview, which claims to have the only all-Macintosh circulation system on the market, introduced the capability of accessing the subscriber database from a remote terminal. It enables operators to add subscribers from other offices, vacation spots or anywhere else they can take their computers.
A new data compression routine makes it possible to fit a database of subscriber names on a floppy disk and take it on a trip.
Cascade DataFlow tracks ad production
Besides demonstrating MediaSphere (see section on archiving), Cascade showed DataFlow, which is being used to manage the production of display ads and monitor the progress of ad production.
The DataFlow server takes booking information from a range of ad booking systems and stores this information in the server. DataFlow connects with Xpress via an Xtension, allowing Xpress users to log in to the DataFlow server. It also connects to Photoshop via a plug-in. Items can be dragged and dropped from the server into Xpress. All the elements for an ad can be called out of the server or loaded into work folders. From within Xpress users can search the DataFlow server for items and then drag and drop them into Xpress. The Page Builder Xtension can then automatically build pages of ads from stored layouts, pulling in completed ads. Progress can be viewed graphically using the ViewFlow monitor, which incorporates colors to represent each different status.
The intranet-Internet interface that runs DataFlow allows it to be operated and viewed from anywhere on the network or through a WAN via the Internet. Remote users can view all ads with their run schedules. Ads can be proofed via the Internet using the Amber facility to view and print PDF files of the ads created by DataFlow. The software includes forms to be filled in with comments and returned to the DataFlow server. It is possible to generate the equivalent of a tear sheet using PDF to see an ad in context on the page.
CCI ready with NewsDesk, AdDesk
We have been watching CCI become a full editorial system supplier for some time. While it is true that CCI develops very advanced and powerful systems, it is true also that it takes a long time in doing so. Its new editorial system has been shown in various stages for a couple of years, yet it still hasn't gone into its first site.
Atex link. At Nexpo we saw the system as it will finally be installed in the near future at the first sites. The first systems will be placed alongside existing Atex editorial systems, which it will replace over time. CCI showed how its Atex Gateway will take over the role of the Atex system, making it just a part of the CCI system.
This is already happening at some sites, where the Atex Gateway allows CCI to become another server node on an Atex system. Files from Atex are stored on the CCI system, and the CCI LayoutChamp creates the page layout files that the Atex users access to write copy to fit. This scenario employs the CCI composition system and stores files on the CCI servers or on Atex J11 application servers. In the latter case, files are held in CCI tagged format on the Atex servers. Performance appears to be good. The average response time for an Atex workstation to achieve composition on the CCI system is less than three seconds.
The full editorial system is now running predominantly under NT. Only the LayoutChamp pagination application still runs under Solaris on Sun or Pentium workstations, but it is being ported to NT and should be running in this environment early next year.
The CCI strategy is to use a mix of CCI applications and custom versions of standard software. The mail function, which is viewed as a key element in an editorial system because of its importance to reporter communications, may be entrusted to Lotus Notes. CCI already has implemented good integration with the Notes database.
Editorial functions. The main writing and composition functions are based on Word, but are heavily customized to run either offline or online. This version features an extensive range of keyboard editing shortcuts and a full interface to the CCI Oracle database. Unlike most editorial systems that are based on Word, CCI's system doesn't use Word's composition. Nor does it rely on Xpress. CCI uses the well-proven, high-quality CCI composition program running in the editorial workstation. This workstation runs under NT rather than Windows 95 because CCI prefers NT for secure multitasking operations. The use of Word plus the CCI file system and CCI composition automatically produces structured documents, as every file coming from Word is converted into the CCI database format. This structure is also used for automatically building Internet pages with HTML (more on this later).
The CCI approach to editing and composition is well thought out and efficient. It uses multiple concurrent windows for writing and editing, accessing the database and building stories from multiple clips (through a scratchpad window). A read window can be connected to specified input baskets to show automatically stories that come in from wire services or reporters.
A list window accesses the database, which is organized as an object database, although it runs on Oracle or another standard SQL database. CCI plans to switch later to the Oracle Object database. The database uses triggers to notify NT clients of activity and updates directories dynamically. It also provides multiple views and supports a text search facility. It stores text, graphics, pages, wire stories and any other objects.
Items can be dragged from a directory and dropped into other baskets or onto pages.
Handling graphics. The system currently supports only 8-bit color when showing graphics on pages, but it will support full 24-bit color for all images, including thumbnails. Like some other systems, NewsDesk has almost all the facilities of a picture desk for manipulating graphics, including full image browsing, cropping, scaling and rotating functions. There are some neat cropping capabilities to pick up image sizes from LayoutChamp and apply them to images.
None of this prevents the system from using other graphic programs where appropriate. Photoshop, Illustrator and Xpress can be linked to the database.
Page layout. Page layout can be addressed directly from within Word using the write-to-fit function, which CCI guarantees will be 100% accurate. It is possible also to perform final page operations with interactive editing and composition within LayoutChamp. In either situation, the operator is able to fit copy to complex irregular shapes.
In general, we view NewsDesk as one of the leading new systems for large- and medium-scale editorial operations. It is being considered by many newspapers in Europe, where it normally competes head-to-head with Unisys's Hermes system. In the U.S. the first system is scheduled for installation in Phoenix, AZ.
Addressing the Internet. CCI had shown a prototype of its Internet publishing capability at Nexpo a year ago. This year it was much farther along. Publishing on the Internet and producing pages for printing both use the CCI database and the same shape and style facilities for formatting. For publishing on the Web, the template for Web publishing is …