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A Set of Software Tools for a Document Workstation

Objective

To produce a set of software tools for the automated production of documents.
The work undertaken has been addressing the problem of the management of large sets of high quality documents in complex organisational environments. A set of tools for the production (mainly) and management of those types of documents has been under development. The technical effort was put into the design and implementation of a global architecture as a suitable basis for development applications. The kernel of the system consists of a software engine that understands the semantical content of the conceptual document and generates a final document according to the layout model defined by the presentation scheme. Nevertheless, the scope of the study is the development of real life applications for specific environments, mainly banks, in order to validate the kernel of the system on the issues of portabililty, functionality and toolkit support.

The production of documents is the basic activity of almost all offices. In particular, there are domains, such as banks, in public administration and in legal practices, where:
the documents produced follow predefined patterns (they cannot be created freely, but have to follow precise rules);
a large amount of data may be included in a document, and often the same data are used in a variety of closely related documents.

Many documents of an official nature exhibit these features. For this relatively large class of applications, the tools currently available for document production are largely inadequate and creation of these documents is still largely unautomated.
The technical approach of the project was based on the assumption that the characteristics of a given class of documents can be modelled by schemas. These schemas describe the structure of the document class and define all the variants which can be included in documents. When a user selects a schema, a semantic filter captures the data to be included in the document and transforms them into concepts (eg, the datum Mr Smith is associated with the concept seller). The collection of all these concepts is called a conceptual document. A specialized engine executes the schmea, using the conceptual document to generate a composed document, where the proper variants have been selected.

The set of software tools for a document workstation (SUPERDOC) project succeeded in producing a set of software tools for the automated production of these documents. This technology is being exploited in real life applications.

2 marketing strategies are being followed: to use the tools in existing applications as an add on for doucment production, and to develop specific applications that embed the SUPERDOC tools.
The production of documents is the basic activity of almost all offices. In particular, there are domains, such as banks, in public administration and in legal practices, where:

- the documents produced follow predefined patterns (that is, they cannot be created freely, but have to follow precise rules)
- a large amount of data may be included in a document, and very often the same data are used in a variety of closely related documents.

Many documents of an official nature, such as legal papers, contracts, official letters, forms etc, exhibit these features. For this relatively large class of applications, the tools currently available for document production are largely inadequate. The creation of these documents is therefore still largely unautomated, with a consequent expenditure of time and qualified staff resources.

The technical approach of the project was based on the assumption that the characteristics of a given class of documents can be modelled by schemas. These schemas describe the structure of the document class and define all the variants (such as data and sentences) which can be included in documents. When a user selects a schema, a semantic filter captures the data to be included in the document and transforms them into concepts (eg, the datum "Mr Smith" is associated with the concept "seller"). The collection of all these concepts is called a "conceptual document". A specialised engine executes the schema, using the "conceptual document" to generate a composed document, where the proper variants have been selected.

Coordinator

EPSILON SOFTWARE
Address
Syngrou Avenue, 377
17564 Athenes
Greece

Participants (10)

ADDAX
Greece
Address
Orminiou Street, 38
11528 Athenes
Applied Research Group SpA
Italy
Address
Via Fratelli Bronzetti 18
20129 Milano
Bull Italia SpA
Italy
Address
Via Dei Laboratori Olivetti 79
20010 Pregnana Milanese Milano
INSTITUTO DE ENGENHARIA DE SISTEMAS E COMPUTADORES
Portugal
Address
Apartado 10105, Rua Alves Redol, 9
1017 Lisboa
Lombardia Informatica SpA
Italy
Address
Via Frigia 27
20126 Milano
Politecnico di Milano
Italy
Address
Piazza Leonardo Da Vinci 32
20133 Milano
SELISA
France
Address
17 Avenue De Parc
91380 Chilly-mazarin
SISTEMAS MODULARES DISTRIBUIDOS SA
Portugal
Address
R. Alves Redol, 11000
1000 Lisboa
STRATEGIC INTERNATIONAL LTD
Greece
Address
Isiodou Street 8
10674 Athenes
Teseo SpA
Italy
Address
Corso Sempione 32/A
20154 Milano