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Re: Database Publishing Suggestions

At 06:22 AM 2/3/99 -0500, David Evans of Finite Matter, the developer of
PatternStream wrote:
>Dan, Dan, Dan,
>I do respect your knowledge of database publishing issues, however, to
>suggest that Unimerge is faster and better than PatternStream without ever
>reviewing the PatternStream product demonstrates pure speculation on your
Typically, I'm getting performance with UniMerge on a 266 MHZ CPU of 5000
records per minute. These are complex records having upwards of 40-60
fields, some with very long text strings. How about you volunteering some
actual performance data on PatternStream so we can benchmark it against
"I guess it depends on what your definition of IS, is."  The only
>thing that YOU can say unconditionally is that Unimerge is cheaper out of
>the box. When comparing YOUR cost (development time included) -- is
>Unimerge really cheaper?  (I guess that is an unfair question since you
>haven't taken the time to understand PatternStream's capabilities.)
I do not believe PatternStream cuts development costs, particularly for the
"high-end publishing" which you claim is the product's forte. With UniMerge,
I can put together an application for a simple mailing list-type publishing
effort and test it with test records containing instantiations of all the
variabilities in record content in about 30 minutes. But such simple
applications provides no meaningful information about capability. In a
real-world application of some complexity, the development time is consumed
primarily by an analysis of the customer's requirements, the content of the
database, all the possible variations among records, and exception handling.
Test cases must be developed for all of these issues. Then, there are all
the issues involved in FrameMaker template design, which typically requires
the development of more test cases. Then, a skeleton application of some
sort must be developed to run against those test cases and analyze the
results. After that, there is usually a back-and-forth process that goes on
with the customer (sending samples and getting comments back) to perfect
everything and get all the formatting and page layout issues resolved. As
any programmer will tell you, no software product can automate this process.
The actual final coding step is a minor part of the total programming
effort. The same applies to high-end database publishing. I challenge you to
prove to me that PatternStream provides any way to short-cut the development
process described above.
>To be clear, PatternStream will out perform any meta-tagged based system --
>bar none. To claim expertise in a particular field, you must be
>knowledgeable of all products and willing to try new things. I would
>suggest that if you want to compare PatternStream to other products, try it
>first -- contact us.
Hmmm. Does that mean I have to be an expert in Microsoft Weird, WordPerfect,
PageMaker, and Quark to know that FrameMaker is a better solution for
iondustrial-strength database publishing?
>Admittedly, PatternStream is for high-end publishing -- things that
>Unimerge could not begin to tackle.
And what kind of "high-end publishing" are you talking about that UniMerge
can't tackle? Give me some examples. I can give you ample examples of
extremely difficult high-end publishing I've done with UniMerge, and I
suspect that some of those would be problematic with PatternStream. The fact
is, in my 5 years of database publishing experience, I've never encountered
an application that couldn't be cracked with UniMerge. Maybe, after
PatternStream has been around for 5 years, your claims can be validated.
>And be assured, PatternStream can
>compete everywhere, from the simple to the very complex. Please understand
>that FML is very familiar with meta-tagged systems too, and why
>PatternStream was developed. With so many competing code based systems, how
>can you recommend one over another -- they all do the same thing, the same
>way, they just change the language used (meta-tags) a little bit.
Have you, personally, ever used UniMerge to develop a high-end application?
If not, how can you possibly know what you're talking about. The UniMerge
command language has about 15 commands, but it's incredibly powerful. Many
people (me included) much prefer to work with a concrete syntax rather than
trying to do the same thing through a GUI whose underlying language base is
hidden from the developer. When you substitue a GUI for the concrete syntax
of a command language, you just complicate things, because the developer is
never precisely certain of what the outcome will be, and will waste many
hours puzzling over each discrepant behavior, and trying to figure out how
to trick the GUI into producing the desired behavior.
>To us, Seybold's selection as "Hot Product" makes the statement (and they
>clearly understand what is available in the market). PatternStream doesn't
>force anyone into a particular format -- PatternStream can do it all. Most
>of our customers have tried the meta-tagged stuff, they are converts --
>they understand the significance of a "LIVE" connection between the
>database and the formatting engine.
UniMerge has a live connction capability too. But in 5 years of database
publishing experience, neither I nor my customers have ever found a
compelling reason for using it. That being the case, the question for you is
Can PatternStream handle the more common cases where a live connection is
not only not needed, it is absolutely out of the question? UniMerge can.
I recall a product called BrioPublish which used a GUI and a live database
connection that would appear to be similar to PatternStream's. It took me
less than two days of evaluation to determine that the product was useless.
That opinion was confirmed when the product disappeared less than a year
later. The BrioPublish "solution" simply didn't work in the real world of
database publishing. 
     | Nullius in Verba |
Dan Emory, Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971 E-Mail: danemory@primenet.com
10044 Adams Ave. #208, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

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