Magazine article Editor & Publisher

SII Revamps Product Line

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

SII Revamps Product Line

Article excerpt

IT'S BEEN A busy spring for System Integrators Inc. -- customer embraces, and at least one rebuff, and what appears to be a big change in the product line at one of the newspaper industry's biggest publishing systems vendors on its 20th anniversary.

Much of the change evolved in piecemeal fashion over three years. But as much as anything else, it recognizes that the direction taken and the most recent product changes created a new environment for the basic editorial and advertising applications introduced more than 12 years ago.

System/55 made room for new players -- Macintoshes, PCs, images, color, PostScript, remote reporting, multimedia. Its successor designs in some and can incorporate the rest through its all-LAN-based system open to compatible products.

According to SII, Synthesis 66 builds on its predecessor without obsoleting existing installations --about 500 publications and wire services worldwide. Like the System/55, it will be available in versions for metro and midmarket dailies.

System/55 accommodated Macs; Synthesis expects Macs and more.

The old used Coyote workstations, Coyote software for the PC and the Coyote MTX running under multitasking OS/2; the new offers an enhanced MTX and the Windows-based Roadrunner.

The 55 paginated with Interactive News Layout and Interactive Classified Pagination and was linked to QuarkXPress; 66 puts color into INL, will run classified on a relational database and Unix workstations and opens to XPress with two-way copyflow preserving SII markup; instead of point-to-point terminal-to-Tandem connections, workstation networks will be linked to Tandemservers.

Some former features, such as Mac55 and XPort/API55, have become central to the openness of the new system, and the LASR electronic library is now a part of the editorial package. What SII no longer sells are PCs and Macintoshes. Nor will it sell local area networks.

According to SII, Synthesis 66 relies on its preservation of server, essential applications and integration strengths, to which have been added the benefits of new hardware and third-party software capabilities. It emphasizes that the system remains newspaper-specific, and is not built strictly around off-the-shelf applications and standard micro-computer configurations.

While the text database, wire handling, archiving, Mac-Tandem link and remote access remain much as before, the front end has changed and so have the pagination possibilities. Aimed at larger customers, the MTX puts SII editorial software in a versatile, multitasking environment.

SII stresses its mobile computing capability (e.g.,a notebook computer using cellular telephone and modem communications from the field and docking in a newsroom desktop unit), its access to live video broadcast and CD-ROM archives, and an optional speech-recognition interface in place of or in addition to a conventional keyboard. MTX also presents a user-definable tool bar consisting of icons atop the screen that help speed work.

The alternative workstation, Roadrunner, operates in Microsoft's Windows environment on 486-based PCs. SII promotes Roadrunner as the successor to the Coyote terminal, hardware (later in a software/card version) once made by SII specifically for newspaper use. MTX was introduced as Coyote MTX, but, said SII marketing vice president Stephen Nilan, "Synthesis 66 is its first opportunity to really shine as a brand-new product on its own?'

A new version of OS/2 is out and, while MTX does have new attributes, it is not entirely new. Planning for an OS/2 product began at least five years ago, and work on Coyote MTX dates from a Washington Post decision to change out its editorial system, announced in 1990. A year later SII announced MTX.

Earlier this year, however, the Post dropped MTX "for the foreseeable future' according to one starlet familiar with the project, and SII dropped the familiar Coyote moniker from the product name. …

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