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Tracing the History of the Computer - Interleaf Technical Publishing Software


The mid to late 1980s were an exciting time for anyone who worked in the technical publications industry. The industry moved from having to rely on typists or professional typesetters for producing publications to allowing authors to produce their own visually-impressive documents. Interleaf, along with PageMaker, Ventura Publisher, and later FrameMaker all contributed to this exciting time.

Founded in 1981, Interleaf was a company that produced a technical publishing software product with the same name. It was a competitor of the Adobe FrameMaker product. Broadvision acquired Interleaf in January 2000.

The Interleaf publishing system was notable for being one of several software packages (along with AutoCAD) that was keeping the use of the Lisp programming language alive in commercial software in the late 1990s.

After acquisition Interleaf changed its name to Quicksilver.

According to Broadvision product description, BroadVision QuickSilver enables you to create and publish lengthy, complex documents in multiple output formats (including HTML, PDF and Postscript) and automates publishing of personalized content to BroadVision Portal. Assemble publications from a variety of text, graphic and database sources, including Microsoft Word, AutoCad, Microsoft Excel, and Oracle. Includes a complete XML authoring environment.

Document Conversion

Interleaf/Quicksilver is a complex, unique file format that has been used in publication departments of large corporations. As the years have passed, Interleaf has become expensive to maintain (requiring specialized operators), and the file format cannot be shared in corporate environments that are standardized on Microsoft Word. The result is that in most corporate environments, Interleaf files cannot be shared electronically for either editing or electronic publication and file sharing.

Most corporate settings which have legacy documents in Interleaf confront the problem of converting the Interleaf files to Microsoft Word. Retyping the documents is nearly impossible because of the complexity of the Interleaf file format which commonly involves varied graphic formats, complex tables, and extensive use of automated functions (e.g. references/cross references) that require excruciating, detailed formatting when done manually to achieve conversion to Word. If references/cross references are not converted absolutely correctly, live data is lost within the file.


Interleaf's built in ASCII converter results in densely coded, unformatted output including what Interleaf called "micro-documents" within which critical data is buried. It is not practical technically or as a matter of cost to try to recreate a document in Word from the ASCII version of the native Interleaf file.

Interleaf's native RTF converter has always been weak and does not handle many complex situations. The result is that Word documents created from Interleaf RTF often must be heavily edited (formatted) manually at considerable expense.

The only reliable method of conversion is with highly specialized software which has been quality control tested over a broad range of Interleaf documents and which is enhanced for each new technical detail that arises in a particular Interleaf application.

TagWrite software from ZANDAR (not a product of or subsidiary of Broadvision) is the only known system that comprehensively converts all Interleaf features and does not involve human (manual) intervention in the data.




Ventura Publisher

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