Dave Ream talks about IXMLembedder

Interview with Dave Ream

We asked Dave Ream, the presenter, to tell us more about the webinar Introduction to Embedded Index Creation Using IXMLembedder. Learn about IXMLembedder on the Leverage Technologies website. Register for the October 26 webinar here.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your experience? You don’t actually write indexes, do you?

No, I don’t write indexes but I do occasionally compile tables, usually for legal books, such as tables of cases, statutes, etc.

I have always been a software developer and worked within the publishing industry since 1973. In 1975, I wrote the first programs that dealt with indexes, sorting the index entries back and forth between alphabetic and locator order for legal locators.

I started Leverage Technologies when PCs started to be used for publishing. After being made aware of CINDEX, a client started asking me to provide software to do some tasks that were too specialized to be added to CINDEX. This began the specialty line of index software products. I do work for publishers that involves database indexes as well, but also other projects that have no indexing associated with them.

Q. Where is embedded indexing being used today?

Technical books was the first big use of embedded indexing probably because these books were often also used in electronic forms (PDF, help systems). Also because these books were translated to other languages. But books that indexers are embedding in now certainly include scholarly. For most one-off books, like trade books, I have a feeling that it’s not worth it but I haven’t seen any data on them.

Ebooks are another driving force because software like InDesign can generate a PDF of a print book and an ebook from the same book document—theoretically HTML web pages as well, but I haven’t heard of that being done.

Q. What do you think is the future of embedded indexing?

Since publishers are always looking to save costs, I expect embedded indexing will be requested more and more. I have heard stories that reusing previous embedded indexing, a presumed cost savings benefit of having embedded indexing created, doesn’t happen in practice. I guess because authors probably don’t reuse the files with the embedded indexing for the next version.

Converting more nonfiction workflow to one-path publishing for both print and electronic adds another pressure to streamline the workflow by using embedded indexing.

Q. How is IXMLembedder different from other embedding softwares?

IXMLembedder works from an IXML file. IXMLembedder provides menu scripts to perform functions. For both InDesign and Word, the embedding process happens in a stand-alone program which runs much faster than any Word macro. Secondly, it creates a new file with the embedding so that if any errors are reported, they can be remediated in the document(s) or index(es) and the embedding rerun.

The other big difference is that IXMLembedder can also retrieve embedded entries from Word, InDesign, or DocBook documents when that might be helpful to beginning a project.

Q. Why did you develop IXMLembedder?

I had been thinking about such a program for a while but hadn’t begun writing one since WordEmbed, DexEmbed, and InDesign scripts had been created. A client approached me wanting a faster Word embedding process than they were experiencing. Additionally the IXML (Indexing XML file format) was now in use by CINDEX, Sky Index, the LevTech utilities, and others. This meant a single format could drive the index side of the embedding processing. Word and InDesign have XML versions of their proprietary formats. XML files and other formats like LaTeX and ASCIIdoc aren’t proprietary per se. So a program could be written that was almost entirely agnostic from both the index and the document file formats. A separate program would run much faster than any Word macro embedding software. Using XML and IXML also meant the program didn’t require specific versions of either the indexing or document software.

IXMLembedder provides a uniform way to handle embedding projects for a variety of document formats in a common way. No indexer is likely to work with all of the formats but many will probably work with more than one.

Q. Who can benefit from this webinar? Is it only for people who have IXMLembedder or who are in the market for software?

I think any indexer who wants to see all the stages of developing the embedded indexing process would benefit. Users of WordEmbed and other existing software would be able to compare how the software they use is different from IXMLembedder but more so how the workflow is different.

Existing IXMLembedder users probably wouldn’t get much from it unless they haven’t used it yet. However, most current users have only used it for one project type: Word, InDesign, or a Tag set (XML, etc.). I will try to touch on all three of these to some extent.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I won’t be addressing best practices for creating index entries nor the ID placement in the document in detail. Some reference may be made to that aspect of the work but different indexers have different ideas about how to prepare embedded entries.

One item that will be mentioned is tradeoffs between putting IDs on all the paragraphs vs. inserting IDs as you go through the document(s).

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