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Hour 24. Smart Documents and XML > Advantages of Smart Documents and XML

Advantages of Smart Documents and XML

XML helps businesses to solve many of the thorny problems of creating, validating, managing, and exchanging data between applications and between businesses. Smart Documents go a step further by enabling developers to create documents that “understand” how they fit into a business process. The XML in Smart Documents enables the workers to interact with their users to streamline the business process and enhance the efficiency of “information workers,” while at the same time insulating the workers from the complexities of XML. Here is a list of the key advantages of using Smart Documents and XML:

  • You can take a single source document and transform it for many different media types, such as print, Web, text-to-speech, Braille, and online help. This helps to solve the problem of trying to maintain similar content in different documents, reducing both errors and duplicated effort.

  • With the content in a document tagged, you can both pull data into the document from external data sources and export data from the document into external data sources. This makes it possible to do things like fill in elements based on tags in the document—for example, entering a customer number into an XML form could pull up the customer's shipping information or order history.

  • Because XML documents are highly structured, they can be integrated efficiently into a company's business processes, and users can handle them with greater accuracy. Word and other XML-aware applications can validate the structure and contents of a document, so documents are more likely to be complete and correctly structured. In turn, other applications can access information that was previously trapped in Word documents. For example, a product specification in a Word XML document could be parsed by an external application to generate a list of components.

  • Other programs can create Word documents. This enables applications to generate Word documents automatically, greatly eliminating the drudge work of some tasks. For example, a software company may use structured comments in its source code as the basis for technical documentation of its products. Now an application can extract this information from the source files and create an initial Word document that is the start of a manual. This enables a much higher level of automation of this process.

  • Document management can now be automated more efficiently. When Word loads a Smart Document, the Smart Document will check to ensure that it is the latest version, greatly reducing the overhead of managing business documents. XML tagging also makes it possible to do things like automatically generating (and updating) a list of document authors and then push it into Smart Documents as needed.



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