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Enhancing ISV Document Management Offerings: XSL-FO

9 Nov, 2011

USA/Europe - November 4, 2011 - Is the XSL-FO (Extensible Stylesheet Language Formatting Objects) markup language up to handling ISV-provided customer communications management tasks? According to Aia Software, maybe not. Document-based communications are still the primary way many businesses engage with their customers. Aia Software has previously described the many ways that ISVs can benefit by adding document management capabilities to their offerings to current clients. (A recent Aia white paper, "Customer Communications Management for ISVs" explores this topic in depth.)

However, finding a durable, flexible, user-friendly development platform for a communications strategy has been a problem. A number of features have drawn ISVs, software developers and software providers to the XSL-FO language: its open source, platform independence and low cost, among others. In spite of market interest in XSL-FO as a possible answer to customer communications development, Aia Software cautions that this formatting language warrants closer examination.

"XSL-FO is far too complex for business users to manage. It takes a programmer just to build, manage and change templates," says Christoffel Klimbie, International Business Development Manager of Aia Software. He also points out the lack of a wysiwyg interface, the need for multiple vendor components for a complete solution and limited document output and data format support as characteristics that make XSL-FO a less than ideal answer for ISVs who want to add document output management to their portfolios.

Tips for Evaluating Alternative Approaches to XSL-FO
In evaluating alternatives to XSL-FO, Klimbie suggests a number of “must haves” for ISVs considering adding document management capabilities to their offerings, among them:

  • Multichannel communications capabilities
  • Support for multiple data formats, including legacy data
  • Flexibility and scalability to accommodate customers of all sizes
  • On demand archive access

Adding document management to applications can open more doors to ISV offerings, and a trusted partner is imperative to a successful effort. Klimbie again offers guidelines to help ISVs screen their options to identify the best customer communications management providers and products for their business:

Does the customer communication solution:

  • Offer the functionality your enterprise customers need?
  • Fit into your architecture and business model?
  • Meet your legal, regulatory and licensing needs?

Does the provider:

  • Have good references and a solid reputation?
  • Broad knowledge of customer communications management?
  • The bandwidth and ability to provide support you when you need it?

Taking time to evaluate options and selecting carefully can pay off for ISVs in faster time to market, lower development costs and a profitable solution for both ISV and customer.

About Aia Software
Aia Software (http://www.aia-itp.com/) is a leading global producer and provider of document and forms solutions. The ITP Document Platform enables business users to compose high quality, personalized, business-critical documents. Over 1,000 organizations worldwide already use ITP as an integrated solution to automate the production of high volume standard documents, compose sophisticated individual correspondence from pre-defined paragraphs, and dynamically complete Web forms. ITP can be quickly and seamlessly integrated with existing customer applications and technical platforms. Aia Software has branch offices in North America, the UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Australia.

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