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In what SDL (news, site) is describing as a “significant” deal, the information management vendor has bought Dutch XML editor developer Xopus in a deal that will initially cost €1.6 million (US$ 1.97 million), but could cost in the region of € 2 million (US$ 2.46 million) when it is finally closed.

In a podcast about the deal, Kevin Duffy, CEO of SDL said that they had bought Xopus in order to provide easier authoring and review capabilities to its clients by integrating Xopus with its suite of structured content technologies as well as the wider SDL Global Information Management product management suite.

SDL also said that the deal would be financed from internal sources and said that the acquisition was unlikely to impact on its financial performance for the current financial year.

SDL, Xopus and DITA

While it has been clear for some time that DITA adoption is growing, Duffy says that the speed and scope of that adoption has seen structured authoring move beyond the realm of technical writers and into the broader enterprise.

As a result, he said, SDL went after Xopus for two specific reasons:

DITA Adoption

With the speed of DITA adoption across enterprises there has been for some time a growing need for employees other than technical writers to contribute and review content in XML.

One of the barriers to the adoption of DITA and XML across the organization, Duffy says, has been the complexity of the XML editing experience.

While the need for advanced XML editing tools required by technical writers has been addressed by JustSystems (news, site) or Adobe (news, site) FrameMaker tools, increasingly there will be a number of specialists contributing to content creation and review processes that might not have familiarity with those tools.

To bring those specialists into the authoring process a much simpler authoring tool is required. Xopus fits the bill perfectly in this respect, Duffy said.

DITA Collaboration

Companies that are adopting structured authoring processes are beginning to look for ways to deliver content more dynamically and engage their community of customers and partners outside the organization when developing that content.

Some have adopted wikis for this process and while there are some collaborative capabilities with some wikis, they don’t really provide the kind of collaboration needed to work collectively on structured content.

With Xopus SDL says it is now in a position to offer a review platform and review process that supports XML and supports wiki collaboration and can, as a result include the crowd in content collaboration and content creation process.

Xopus and DITA Authoring

We haven’t come across Xopus before, so let’s have a quick look. Established in the Netherlands in 2001, Xopus’ principal product is its easy-to-use XML editor.

Essentially a WYSIWYG editor, it extends the creation and review of structured content beyond the confines of technical writing organizations to users that do not have technical knowledge of more complex XML or DITA authoring tools through a user-friendly interface.

The most recent version of its authoring tool Xopus 4.1, was released in early June and added grouped elements to the UI, placeholder text, templated content for different elements and a new customizable toolbar.

Established features that appeared over previous versions include:

  • Prevalidating content prevents creation of invalid content
  • Browser-based with no installation needed in both IE and Firefox
  • XSL Stylesheet support
  • CSS Stylesheet support
  • Copy-paste abilities from applications like Word
  • Unlimited undo/redo
  • Multiple language support in the user interface
  • Easy content management system integration

Now that Xopus has been bought by SDL it will become part of its Structured Content Technologies division with future plans to integrate it with the SDL LiveContent, the company's dynamic publishing solution.

Future integrations are envisioned with SDL Contenta for S1000D and related markets, as well as SDL's suite of Global Information Management technologies.

SDL says that it will continue to support existing integrations to third party applications and content management systems including Just System’s XMetal and Adobe FrameMaker. If you’re interested in running a demo of Xopus’ DITA authoring tool the Xopus website is still up and running and you can access the demos there.