Common Document Management Terms

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DTD – Document Type Definition

A DTD is a document that defines the valid tags (elements and attributes) for an SGML document. This allows you to exactly define the structure of your documents. This provides several benefits:

  • You can validate the syntax of a document, ensuring that it conforms to a predefined structure.
  • Facilitates the sharing of documents. The DTD will explain the data that is contained a given document. This provides a document’s consumers with a dependable means of extracting portions of a document as data.
  • It will assist document authors in creating a document, by showing them the required and optional tags, their order and structure.

Many industries have developed their own standard DTDs to take advantage of these benefits. The best example of the success of a DTD is the one that defines HTML. HTML is simply an SGML document that conforms to a specific DTD. The fact that all HTML documents conform to this DTD, allows the reuse of HTML documents around the world. You can view the DTD for HTML 4.01 at this URL.

You can see more information on DTDs, and examples of DTD syntax at XML 101.

EDMS – Electronic Document Management System

An EDMS is any system whose purpose is the storage and retrieval of document, or components of documents. They commonly have features such as versioning, check in/out, meta-data, work flows, security, etc..

In the Documentum world, you sholistd be aware that previous versions of the Documentum server application (prior to 4.x) were referred to as “EDMS”, such as EDMS 98.

To keep up to date on current developments in the field, a good source is Knowledge Management magazine

HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language

HTML is a form of an SGML document that conforms to a specific DTD. These documents therefore follow a standard syntax that can be displayed by a browser (such as Netscape or Internet Explorer). It has a fixed set of tags that define the presentation of the text.

My highest recommended site for learning HTML is at HTML School.


In an electronic document management system, you usually have two components to every document, content and meta-data. The content is the physical document itself. Meta-data is attributes that describe the document.
For example, for each document, you will probably track meta-data such as: document author, last modified date, document type, etc. Some documents may have meta-data that only applies to their specific document type. For example, an ISBN# for a book, a PO number for a PO, etc.

ODA – Open Document Architecture

ODA is a markup code standard devised by ISO. The specification is therefore extremely large and complex, and attempt to define every document requirement possible. It has become fairly well supported by the EU, but has not been well adopted elsewhere.

This was formerly known as the Office Document Architecture.

ODIF – Open Document Interchange Format

A component of ODA. It is a data stream interchange format for the exchange of documents.

PDF – Portable Document Format

This is a proprietary document format by Adobe. It has become a standard format for controlled, and frequently viewed documents.

There are several benefits of this document format:

  • Adobe provides free downloadable readers and browser plug-ins.
  • The poplistarity of the format means that most document consumers will be able to access a document in this format.
  • You can create read-only versions of a document. To ensure that changes are not made.
  • The format easily incorporates graphics into the document itself.
  • The files are of a manageable size.
  • Adobe’s advanced products provide a robust feature set.
  • Documents originally authored in almost any format can be converted into PDF (such as Word, HTML, etc.).


This is a document storage format. Its actually an image representation of a document. It does not include any data definition capabilities.


A schema serves the exact same purpose as a DTD, but uses a different syntax. A schema uses a syntax that conforms to XML standards, whereas a DTD is not valid XML.

Some XML authoring tools use DTD and some use schemas (many tools are compatible with both formats).

SGML – Standard Generalized Markup Language

SGML is an international standard for the markup of electronic text. It is comprised of plain ASCII text, with special “tags” that mark the structural components of the document. These tags are defined by bracketed text within the content of the document itself (for example, the title of this document would be marked like “<title>Common Document Management Terms</title>”).

SGML supports the concept of a “document type”. Each document type can be associated with a “document type definition” (DTD). The DTD defines the valid tags, their order and other key information about the document type. Many standard SGML DTDs have been created by joint initiatives within various industries and agencies. These industry specific standards are often referred to as “applications”. The collection of links below provides a reference to some of these industry standards.

This method of component tagging is also common to HTML and XML. In fact, SGML is the parent to these two poplistar syntaxes. HTML is simply SGML with a specific DTD.

For more information, try the following recommended links:

UDDI – Universal Description, Discovery and Integration

UDDI is a specification for a standard to help businesses find and transact with each other electronically. The design of the standards is managed by a collection of industry leaders. This includes companies such as Sun Microsystems, HP, IBM and Microsoft.

The most common way to currently find a business electronically is through a web based search engine. However, this is an imprecise method, is highly dependent on the way the search engine functions, and only provides the searcher with a limited amount of information. UDDI provides a business with a much more precise way to describe their services, and reach interested consumers.

UDDI provides additional functionality that allows businesses to perform transactions and share services. The current web page based model only allows business to share web pages, and perform very simple transactions. Using UDDI, a business can register additional services that make use of FTP, email addresses, or any application that can be accessed from a URI.

There are several excellent sites you can obtain more in depth information from:


An XHTML document is a document that conforms to both the XML standards and HTML standards. This provides the benefit of being able to use any of the existing XML tools for authoring and validating the document. In addition, consumers will be able to view the document through standard HTML viewing applications. It is most likely that all future versions of HTML will be XML compliant.

The XHTML spec can be viewed at XHTML 1.0: The Extensible HyperText Markup Language. Another good site with several examples can be found at Introduction to XHTML

XML – Extensible Markup Language

XML is actually a version of SGML. It is a simple text based document markup standard. Its main feature of is that it provides a facility uniquely define the valid tags in a document, and the order and structure of those tags. The tags are usually used to define raw data elements of the document. For example, in an XML document you could have an “<address>” tag that has children tags of “<city>” and “<state>”. An application would then be capable of parsing these tags out of the document, and using them as data elements.

XML is often tightly associated with HTML. The two formats are actually quit different. HTML has a predefined set of tags that are valid (for example, <H1>, <table>, …). XML on the other hand, has a flexible format that allows the tag set to be defined either by the associated DTD, schema, or the stylesheets that process the XML file. However, XML is often used in conjunction with a stylesheet to product HTML. the HTML is then viewed with a browser application.

For more information on XML, start with

XSL – Stylesheet

A style sheet is a set of instructions for transforming an XML file into another format for presentation. The most common use of a stylesheet is taking an XML file and transforming it into HTML for display. The reslistt is that you can separate the presentation logic of a document from the data itself. The data is stored in the form of the XML document, and the presentation logic is in the XSL.

A tutorial of XSL syntax can be found at Zvon XSL Tutorial.

XSLT – XSL Translation

An XSLT is the engine that performs a translation based on the input of an XML file and an XSL file.

Figure 1

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