New Opportunity to Adopt Smart Content

The Smart Content Schema gets a major boost to assist broader adoption in the August 2018 enterprise release. This comes in the way of two new tools from Quark:

1. Smart Content Builder
2. Smart Content Designer

The August 2018 release provides these two new tools at no extra charge to active enterprise customers.

This blog article takes time to introduce each tool and provides an overview of the methodology and schema we call Smart Content.

Smart Content Builder
Smart Content Builder is a browser-based tool intended for information architects. Using a friendly user experience, any content strategist can rapidly build new content types for Quark Publishing Platform. This helps new projects realize the benefits of content automation and quickly allows user acceptance teams the chance to validate the model with actual content examples. Instead of presenting new models with a bulky document, architects can directly let specific users try out the new design proposals. With Builder, all this can be done without needing to know XML schema syntax.

Based on your project needs, Quark still advocates documenting approved designs.

This initial release of Builder is considered a public beta version, as we have some updates to the user experience we intend to release soon!

Smart Content Designer
Smart Content Designer helps those professionals responsible for creating a richly designed content layout. Enterprise templates map QuarkXPress formatting objects to Smart Content elements. New, user-friendly palettes help define styles, preview results, perform basic debugging, and add powerful personalization capability. Powerful styling, rich page layouts, and metadata attribute conditions help deliver advanced personalization options for multiple output formats.

For example, let’s say you want to produce a white paper content type with a two-column layout for body content and various title styles which apply inside those columns. Your white paper title, however, needs to span both columns. With a few clicks, you can match an existing layout and get into far more advanced design problems using the power of QuarkXPress. Unlike other XML-based formatting engines, you can apply hand-tailored design to automated content solutions.

Business Benefits
There are three main business benefits brought by the new toolset.

First, we describe these tools as a game changer because most projects currently require developers with a unique set of skills. Placing greater power in the hands of IT or business teams means less dependency on developers or external consultants which can be expensive, difficult to find, or may already be consumed by a backlog of tasks.

Second, these tools accelerate speed to value because they improve the velocity and completion of initial development and unit testing. Early adopters consistently describe projects taking 4x to 10x longer without the new tooling. In one case, a schema design effort took eight hours to implement. With the tooling, the same task was completed in only two hours: only 25% of time it took to do the task manually. A more complex project estimated at 10 business days was done in under a day, or 10% of the time.

Third, customers can leverage additional efficiencies by reusing styles and data models. A team managing a set of data models and styles can modularize specific models (like a section type) or styles (like a title style). When the team is tasked with bringing new documents into the system, existing constructs can be reused and applied as needed. This also helps future update cycles because updates can be edited once and applied to all reused styles or structures.

August 2018 Release
The new tools are part of our August 2018 release. The release includes a range of usability updates in response to our enterprise customers.

What’s Smart Content?
Smart Content has seen successful production usage in a range of industries including several financial services firms, standards organizations, and high-tech manufacturing companies. That’s because Smart Content helps deliver an enhanced content experience for consumers, drive internal efficiencies, or support regulatory compliance with content automation. There are several key ingredients to the market success of Smart Content.

First, the XML-based standards underpinning Smart Content promote best practices like topic-based authoring and reuse, which help any team better repurpose content for multiple scenarios including the delivery of personalized, engaging output to any format, channel, or device.

Second, Smart Content as a methodology improves authoring usability for everyday business users (e.g. marketing teams, legal experts, financial analysts). This is achieved in part by keeping the XML in the background and minimizing hidden rules which can frustrate business users more accustomed to free-form tools like Microsoft Word.

Third, the Smart Content data model is highly capable and easily specialized with an extensibility experience that is easily understood by Web-savvy developers familiar with HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. This makes it possible to address a range of business requirements and derive greater value at lower cost than building add-ons to Microsoft Office or leveraging other third-party tools which rely on less common technologies.

Finally, businesses investing in content systems know that standards-based, non-proprietary data allows an enterprise to own and repurpose that content for future business cases. Because Smart Content uses XML to represent documents, companies making an investment in Smart Content are free to build or buy any software tools or systems to service that content. Although inspired by DITA and created by Quark, Smart Content is also intended to be an open schema. This means it may eventually become an open source OASIS information standard owned by a collaborative industry consortium exactly like DITA, which owes its roots to IBM.

To wrap up this overview, when we talk about achieving XML nirvana we are focused on balancing business users’ everyday need for simplicity against the rich complexity needed to serve future, as-yet-undefined use cases. Future-proofing your investment with Smart Content helps you realize high-value use cases when they are imagined. In many cases, those use cases call for new document models, increased reuse among document models, and the need to quickly define or re-define emergent business rules to help deliver emotionally-engaging and consistent designs for content consumers (i.e. corporate brand changes).

That’s where the new tools come in. We hope you enjoy the new tools and we look forward to hearing about what you accomplish with Smart Content in your business!