Surprisingly, and for better or worse, our effort was not assisted by any new development platform or brilliant insights into cross-media development. The publishing technologies exist today to make cross-media development and manufacturing possible, but the tools are not mature enough to make the job easy.
In our experience, successful projects are accomplished only by sticking with three standard principles, all well known to the industry. First, rely on proven technology. For all the media platforms we targeted, we used technology that had already been well tested on previous projects.
THE DATA LYNCHPIN
At the heart of our products is the data. We have been maintaining data in generically tagged files since the late 1980s, and the tagging structure of the Collegiate Dictionary has not changed significantly in 10 years.
The tagging structure was designed specifically to support print and electronic outputs, and both our print and electronic product development staffs, and our licensees, are familiar with it.
The only new technology that we adopted was the XMetal XML editor from Corel Corp., in Ottawa, which we used for capturing revision keystrokes. We were pleasantly surprised by the XMetal editor, as its user-friendly interface allowed us to keyboard revisions faster than ever before, and certainly faster than we anticipated.
For the print edition, the tagged files were delivered to Thomas Technology Solutions Inc., Horsham, Pa., a typesetting company we have been working with since the early 1970s. They set the type, composed the pages in Xyvision (from Xyvision Enterprise Solutions Inc., Reading, Mass.), and delivered the PostScript files to Quebecor World for direct-to-plate printing.
Thomas Tech has been composing Collegiate Dictionary pages from generically tagged files using Xyvision since 1999; the print technology is quite stable. The CD-ROM version was created with development tools based on an old but stable C++ programming platform we have used since 1995.