OmniMark: Free no more
19:44, 22 Jan 2001 UTC | Michael Smith

After making its OmniMark programming language available for free more than a year ago, OmniMark Technologies has apparently done an about-face, stating at their website that "OmniMark no longer distributes free software."

In a thread on the omnimark-coan mailing list, OmniMark developer Harvey Thomas indicates that after requesting clarification of the website statement, he received the following reply from OmniMark VP for technology John McFadden: assured that having given it our very best try, and having received insufficient support from our user base, free is no longer in our corporate vocabulary.

Available for more than ten years, the OmniMark programming language has become widely used for SGML and XML transformation and processing tasks, finding a particular niche in the so-called "N-Converter" tool category -- that is, as a tool for converting non-SGML/XML data (for example, plain text and word-processing formats) into SGML/XML.

Despite McFadden's statement about "insufficient support" from users, OmniMark in fact seems to have an unusually loyal, committed, and evangelical user base. It's common to see mailing list postings extolling the virtues of OmniMark relative to other transformation alternatives such as Perl or XSLT -- for example, describing the relative ease with which a certain transformation task can be performed using OmniMark.

The return of OmniMark to not-freely-available status may help to make alternative utilities such as Balise more attractive to developers. As a recent xmlhack story indicates, it was announced at XML Europe 2000 that Balise will (eventually) be distributed under an open-source license. Since the announcement, however, there has been no further news regarding Balise, though the Step GmbH website contains the following statement:

The Balise Software will be overtaken by the Step GmbH and will be provided free of charge shortly. For any further information please contact us at

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Newest comments

Re: OmniMark: Free no more (Peter Flynn - 20:39, 23 Jan 2001)
I can well understand their withdrawing the free engine. It was a generous gesture but I think they ...
Re: OmniMark: Free no more (Jack Rugh - 15:28, 23 Jan 2001)
Actually, the referenced URL is for Omnimark version 4. That version requires the use of a keyed li ...
Re: OmniMark: Free no more (jakob - 12:58, 23 Jan 2001)
however, if you enter "download" in the search box on the top of the page, the result list will cont ...
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