Quark has announced a new Web-based software for automated publishing, Quark Author. This is an XML authoring program that keeps the XML elements behind the scenes, giving users a word processor-like environment that can be used to create structured content.
Writers can create and organise content in components using standard content types such as sections, paragraphs, lists, tables, charts and figures. When created as structured components – or Smart Content – content can be dynamically assembled for output across mobile, digital and print channels.
Smart Content is simply Quark’s take on XML-driven publishing. The advantage of this approach is that individual bits of information can be found, updated or repurposed without being lost within the document as a whole. XML has been around for a while but its complexity means that it’s not widely implemented, though Quark has been working on developing XML authoring tools for some time now.
It’s a web-based system and there’s a native HTML5 application that works on any modern desktop Web browser without plugins to help it integrate with existing systems.
It uses Quark’s own Smart Content Schema, which is heavily informed by DITA and other XML schema, and strikes a balance between ease of use for authors and the robustness of XML semantics.
However, while Quark Author enables subject matter experts to create, preview and publish Smart Content, this is only one half of the puzzle. The other half is allowing publishing and content teams to keep track of, and update, the various content components. This content management is run through the Quark Publishing Platform, which is an enterprise level approach to multi-channel publishing.
XML can be a difficult concept to grasp and so Quark has also put together a free eBook The Beginner’s Guide to Smart Content, which contains a brief primer on XML publishing. This can be downloaded from here: http://www.quark.com/en/smartcontentebook
You can find further details about Quark Author at http://www.quark.com/en/quarkauthor