USAF, Customs to Build Intranets

P> World Wide Web site development tools, popularized in the consumer market, are also being deployed extensively in several government agencies, including the U.S. Air Force and the Patent and Trademark Office, to create intranets, or in-house Web pages.

Tools such as InContext Spider, Adobe Page Mill, and LinkStar create documents in standard generalized markup language, or SGML. The software language, a predecessor of the popular hypertext markup language, or HTML, enables users to do "heavyweight document publishing," including the creation of technical manuals, said Dr. Robert Arn, president and CEO of InContext, Toronto.

"So we were regarded as the PC product to beat by PC magazine in the SGML category authoring systems. We've worked with Xerox. [They are the original equipment manufacturer] of our SGML product. We're taking that into Japan as the first Japanese SGML market," said Arn. SGML is the foundation of the Web. Customers such as the U.S. Air Force and the Patent Office use the tools to develop applications for the in-house Web pages. "Web developers are going to have to go beyond the current bounds of HTML," Arn said in an interview. "This is going to be pretty big in six to nine months. There will be vertical market applications in the government that require SGML -- even canned, shrink-wrapped applications."

The Patent Office is moving toward requiring filing new patent applications in SGML form. "

And that will definitely be part of a Web publishing application, where outside people will be accessing it from a Web site. But the actual data will be authored in SGML. This vertical, specific use allows you to build an application that lets lawyers who do patent work to interact with the Patent Office," said Arn.

Competitors such as Netscape Navigator Gold and Adobe Page Mill are also trying to expand to the custom intranet market. InContext has been working with the Air Force for several years already; it is its biggest client, bringing in millions in revenues. The Patent Office is also a significant client.

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