OASIS Mailing List ArchivesView the OASIS mailing list archive below
or browse/search using MarkMail.


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help

dita message

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index] | [List Home]

Subject: DITA map conflict with i4i patent?

Title: DITA map conflict with i4i patent?

Some of you might have heard about the successful lawsuit against Microsoft brought by Infrastructures for Information Inc. (www.i4i.com), which resulted in an award of $200 million.

I took a look at this patent (US Patent 5787449). I'm not a patent lawyer, but to me this patent, which was awarded in 1998, could be interpreted as covering at least partially the same solution that DITA maps cover.

Is there some-one who can provide a more informed opinion?

Tim Grantham
Member, DITA TC
Here is a portion of the patent from its Description section:
"The present invention has a number of benefits over documents combining content with embedded codes. Most of the benefits flow from the fact that the invention recognizes the separateness of content and structure. Document structure is dependent on a number of factors; such as how the document will be used, its intended audience, required formats for special uses, and the like. Content is generally less variable.

documentation for example has a large volume of very consistent content about the topic. The content is usually about a real world product or process, and it will not change unless the product or process does. The presentation and structure of that information will change depending on its intended use. Two revisions of a manual for a piece of equipment may format the same information in very different ways. Additionally, its whole structure may be changed to reuse the components of the content in a technical paper rather than a manual.

"The present invention allows of multiple views of content. Separating content from its structure allows the invention to provide multiple views of the same content. If a different metacode map is applied to the same raw content a new view of that content can easily be generated. For example a set of design notes for an industrial process could be viewed as a training manual or repair manual simply by changing the metacode map used with the content.

"Such a change may be deeper than just the look of the two documents. The map can be used to divide the content into objects definable in human terms, like title, paragraph, footnote, and the like. These objects can be easily redefined in a different map which shares the same content. This allows multiple interpretations of the same content, not just multiple looks. It should be noted that the maps may be asynchronous with regard to the content that is referred to. The map elements of multiple maps have no fixed relation to each other, either in terms of their position within the content or the number of elements defined. In SGML this ability to overlay two or more structures on a single set of text is called Concur. Its usefulness has long been recognized but it has proven difficult to implement. In large part this is due to the nature of codes embedded in the text stream.

"Multiple maps are not the same thing as creating two copies of the document with different embedded codes. Multiple views using embedded codes means that there must be multiple copies of the content of the document. Whenever a change is made to the content of one view that change must be reapplied to each view separately. This greatly increases the problem of
managing and synchronizing multiple views of a document.

"Multiple views using the invention share the same mapped content. Changes made to the mapped content will automatically be reflected in all views which use that mapped content. One copy of the content makes document management far easier and much more reliable.

"The present invention provides the ability to work solely on metacodes. The process allows changes to be made to the structure of a document without requiring the content. A metacode map could be edited directly without the mapped content. Additionally a new map can be created based solely on an existing map without requiring the content. This allows changes to be made to the appearance or structure of a document by individuals who may not be allowed to modify the content. Document security can be significantly enhanced since the metacodes and content of the document are separately stored and protected.

"The present invention further provides the ability to work solely on content. Conversely changes to the content can be made without the overhead of a completely encoded document. This can be important because complicated coding conventions often get in the way of the content. For example, a copy writer has
no interest in the intended layout of his copy until it is complete and correct. The invention allows new maps to be created using just content without reference to existing maps.

"The present invention also provides for storage efficiency of multiple versions. The invention allows much more efficient storage of multiple copies of differently encoded documents. If the content is invariant and only the metacodes change it is inefficient to store multiple copies of the content. According to the prior art in the field this would be required if both versions are to be kept. Using the invention only a new metacode map has to be stored.

"The ratio of metacodes to content is dependent on the metacodes chosen as well as the document type. Ratios of 1:100 would not be unusual, particularly where the metacodes involved are text formatting codes, and 1:1 would be an extreme case. That means that the invention will require significantly less than half the storage space for multiple versions compared to prior methods.

"The present invention provides also for efficiency of operation on the document. The invention allows document operations to be much more efficient. It is no longer necessary to parse the entire document to locate the embedded codes. Differentiating codes from content is obviously no longer a problem since they are held in different areas. This also allows more efficient coding strategies to be developed without the restriction of ensuring that all codes are clearly differentiated from any possible content.

"Removing the problem of differentiating the codes from the content has the additional benefit of allowing more flexibility in the content. Systems which rely on embedded codes to encode a document are fragile if any of those codes appear in the content of the document. In contrast the invention is indifferent to the characters in the content. In effect there need not be any special characters in the mapped content, all characters are treated equally. This makes documents which use the invention to be less fragile.

"Many operations which would previously have required scanning the entire document can now be done with just the metacode map. This is a much smaller, simpler structure than a document with embedded codes. Similarly some operations can be performed solely on the content without regard for the encoding. Indexing would be a good example of such an operation.

"The system of the invention may be implemented using maps and mapped content broken into three sections. The first section involves decomposing existing documents into a representative map and its associated mapped content. The second involves creating or editing a document consisting of content plus a metacode map. The third is building a combined view from the constituent parts, which is necessary because interaction with the document may be done as a visual whole rather than in its constituent parts."

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index] | [List Home]