Xerox launches experimental document format language

Xerox will announce today the availability of an experimental programming language intended to make it easy to transform...

Xerox will announce today the availability of an experimental programming language intended to make it easy to transform documents and data between specific formats, enabling documents to be read regardless of what application or device is used.

The Circus-DTE (Data Transformation Environment) programming language, which has been posted on, is available for testing. Circus-DTE has been on the site since November and has had 5,000 downloads, but the company has just received clearance to publicly detail the language, a Xerox representative said.

The language is a research project developed at the Xerox Research Centre of Europe, in Grenoble.

Circus-DTE is intended for environments in which document portals abound and documents and data must move on the Web or in business processes, according to Xerox. The language is intended to provide a middle ground between a general-purpose, low-level language that needed lengthy development of complex algorithms and a high-level, but inflexible, approach.

"Circus DTE is a programming language intended to address the problems inherent in document transformation," said Bob Campbell, manager of the Web site. Developers would write an application specific to their environment, depending on what types of data they need to transform into what type of output, he added.

Xerox said the language is suited to data processing or the transformation of structured documents, and it validates results produced so that input into another application will function properly. Circus-DTE translates the document so it can be viewed from a PDA, mobile phone, or laptop with a multitude of applications.

The company believed Circus-DTE could be especially useful when there are multiple document transformations, such as document content processing, Internet publishing, publishing on handheld devices, and database-to-XML conversions.

Processing a customer order, for example, requires a series of transformations, including inputting data into applications that check inventory and availability, preparing shipping documentation, generating an invoice, processing payments, and maybe publishing to a Web site for customer tracking, Xerox said.

Circus-DTE is available for free 90-day trials, after which users can contact Xerox to discuss licensing opportunities or suggest enhancements to the language. There may not be a charge for using it after 90 days, depending on use.

"In many ways, we're searching for direction on how we can use this," Campbell said.

The Web site is jointly managed by Xerox and the Rochester Institute of Technology for programmers and developers who want to try out software from commercial and academic research centers.

Among other technologies available on are Automatic Image Enhancement, which is a tool to boost visual quality of images, and STITCH-CLF, a middleware tool for harnessing heterogeneous and distributed resources such as databases, services, legacy systems, printers and PDAs.

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