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XHive Brings Technical Publishing Vertical Solution to EMC

Imaging aside, I cannot point to any other product in the EMC portfolio that can be classified as a content creation tool other than the applet driven WebPublisher. Third party integrations may be on the price list but they are not necessarily part of the product line’s strategic direction. I suppose you could make the argument that the Xforms editor qualifies but that’s not nearly robust enough to manage something like an aircraft maintenance manual. This brings me to X-Hive.

With the X-Hive acquisition, not only does EMC gain a significant position in XML repository technology, but they also acquire a complete vertical application suite for managing ATA and S1000D data. For those of you unfamiliar with the terms, the Air Transport Association is the trade organization that facilitates (among other things) the development of standards for major operators of commercial aircraft. Key among these standards are those that govern the creation, revision and distribution of technical documentation. S1000D is an internationally governed standard for aerospace and defense technical publishing, which (according to legend and Wikipedia) “began with military aircraft but has been expanded to land, sea and other commercial equipment.”

The X-Hive solution for S1000D includes a set of customizations to a WYSIWYG editor for authoring XML that conform to the standard. The editor itself is the Sema tool from Syntext so the solution is not without its third party components. This makes me wonder what the longer term impact to traditional integrations with PTC ArbotText, XMetal, and others will be. This also this places EMC in direct competition with other software vendors like the recently combined Info Trust / Jouve Data Management. InfoTrust in particular has a long history with Documentum and aircraft maintenance related publishing. According to their website, they also maintain a partnership with Mark Logic, which I suggested in a post last August was EMC’s target competition for X-Hive.

Technical presentations and posts about X-Hive have started to turn up from the EMC community but the future of the vertical solution is not as certain. Documentum does not have a stellar history with content creation tools. In fact, they have traditionally seemed to have had a pathological aversion to content creation, opting to remain agnostic with regard to file type. This position has driven web content authors to distraction for years but there are very good reasons for not wanting to get into the editor market. Namely, when what you really want to do is manage everybody’s content it is in your best interest no to limit your customers to a particular editor.

EMC/Documentum eventually has to deal with more tightly coupled editor scenario’s for the sake of DITA support. What is less certain is their level of dedication to the more complex relationships between the repository and the editor that efficient vertical component content management requires. Structure aside, the title of the post is really more of a wishful thought than a statement. EMC/Documentum has long needed to take greater interest in the experience of content creators and this will force the issue for at least a segment of the market. In the end, while EMC may have gained access to a complete vertical solution we’ll have to wait an see whether or not this particular European transplant will flourish in Massachusetts.

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