What is so special about Elepub?
A lot! Elepub differs fundamentally from any other DTP or database publishing software on the market today. It is impossible to summerize the many differences in a few phrases, and actually, most of this entire web site covers the various features where Elepub differs from what you might know.
Therefore, we mention here just the most important subject, in which Elepub is very special: the way it uses and formats database content.
The core problem: database contents on DTP pages
In the late 90ies, we were asked to automate the creation of catalog pages for use in Elecat, our page based electronic product catalog software. Elecat was designed to make existing DTP pages electronically usable - this worked fine but our customers had a much greater problem in getting their contents efficiently formatted in the first place. This was all done manually!
We used some existing tools to automatically create layout in some of the major DTP applications, primarily in QuarkXpress. Later we had to develop our own "hacks" to circumvent limitations of the existing tools.
Whatever we did, whatever the database publishing tools offered, everything was limited by the data formats of the DTP software, which were developed in the old-fashioned C language and in "structured programming", concepts from the 70ies and early 80ies. We were always struck by DTP's sheer incapability to really place a database item inside a DTP frame and to instantly respond to changing data on either side. All that could be placed on a page was a really only a copy of the database item without any direct and permanent connection to the database.
What we really wanted was this:
...that the data on the page is really the data in the database not from the database, i.e. not just a copy of the original data but the data itself, which changes on a page instantly and automatically whenever it changes in the database.
No way! A truly instantaneous connection between a database and any DTP software was just impossible - and it still is today, except via import and export procedures causing a lot of alignment trouble on both sides.
Experience from more than 40.000 generated pages
The experience gained from generating more than 40.000 pages via database publishing as a service company proved us that database publishing in conjunction with today's DTP software will always remain basically a one-way road and will always be based on separate data entities.
In late 1999, when we started the development of a completely new generation of Elecat in pure object-oriented technology we noticed that our object framework actually had almost everything we needed for a full publishing software. Only the user interface and a few processing actions were missing (which were easy to add). This is why we decided very early to create three separate but very closely connected products, Elecat, Elepub and Elestore, from this one central object framework. That is the great thing about true o-o: you can re-use most of what you have created!
How should Elepub be designed and architected?
Our experience told us that, unlike existing solutions, we should not rely on using available DTP software as a "publishing engine" for our application. Instead, we came to the conclusion that we should offer the most vital DTP functionality inside our own system, especially:
- design, construction and storage of page structures
- a stand-alone page editor to visualize database items unconditionally, directly and immediately without any importing, copying, referencing etc.
All of the internal object structures and even 90% of the needed page editor already existed as part of Elecat, so it was only natural to enhance this into a new and self-contained type of publishing application.
Elepub outputs final pages to your DTP software
Elepub exports final pages to your DTP software to QuarkXPress, InDesign and Framemaker. Typically there weill be no work left to be done in the DTP software because all editing is done in Elepub and only final pages are exported to your favorite DTP software (and even this is not necessary in many cases).
Almost all functionality common to DTP software has been included in Elepub - except for the two areas where these applications have their special strength, which we should not wish to mimic or improve, they are:
- color separation
- and some special finesse in using, placing and designing text and fonts - rarely used in product catalogs.
This is all that an Elepub user will need DTP software for. Everything else is done in Elepub where you work directly on the original database data and not just on a copy as in any DTP software.
Elepub is an autonomous publishing application combining "art and science". We left some of the "fine art" to DTP but covered all of the "science", i.e. the entire database functionality, by Elepub. All data relevant changes are performed inside Elepub and are therefore unconditionally, directly and immediately stored in the database.