XML Is Their Future Online?

Thanks to my Google News Alert service, I recently discovered some on-demand XML Editors supporing DITA. While Salesforce democratized software on-demand in the CRM market, I am still perplexed on the future of on-demand pure play software.

So let’s see first what makes on-demand software, also known as Saas (Software as a Service), so attractive nowadays. I see five compelling reasons:

No installation required: you usually get started in minutes upon completion of your subscription. On-demand is great for companies who need software for a limited period of time; you just pay for what you use, usually on a monthly basis. The service enjoys frequent fixes and updates (every trimester or quarter) as opposed to a multi-year release cycle for classic software. On-demand is accessible anywhere at anytime… well, assuming you have an Internet connection. On-demand software offers cost savings to SMBs and sometimes to larger firms as well

Does it make sense to go on-demand with an XML editor? My answer is… not really. I guess I need to explain since we have been preaching the benefits of on-demand collaboration services with LiveTechDocs.

IMHO, XML editors are incompatible with the on-demand model for the following reasons:

Targeted at desktop power users

XML Editors are targeted at power users (developers, technical writers). These users have high expectations in terms of features and performance that are easier matched by desktop applications. Furthermore, why would you create and edit your XML file online? Unless the on-demand application offer complementary services (sharing, collaboration), there are no reasons.

Competing in a crowded market

XML Editors are becoming a commodity. As Teresa mentioned in a previous post, you can choose from a multitude of providers, ranging from free open source editors to commercial editions. It makes it harder to enter the market and convince users to switch to your solution.

Lack of innovation

I briefly tried some applications and they look like any classic XML editor. On-demand is not about copying what already exists and putting it on a website. It is about leveraging the Internet capabilities to offer innovative services and providing efficient solutions to user needs.

Software rather than a service

An XML Editor, running on your desktop or online, remains a productivity tool. Successful on-demand software companies are focusing on selling a value-added service rather than online software. Why do companies choose to go on-demand? Because it solves a business problem in a better and cheaper way.

I did not mean to be hard on the current on-demand XML editors. My point is that I do not see a business model with their current approach. Adding content management capabilities and collaboration features would be a different story!

We had a similar reflection when we started LiveTechDocs and decided to focus on collaboration and leave XML editing to the pros. This was a logic from the mind and the pocket:

We would rather do one thing very well than many things averageXML software editors do a decent job and we are not ready to take up the challenges ($$$) of developing an on-demand editor online.

If you use XML Editors in your daily job, I am interested in your opinion. Do you see a future for on-demand XML editors?

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