In a world where organizations grapple with exponential growth in unstructured content, there is an increasing interest in structured content and its management. This article examines the differences between structured and unstructured content and makes the case for separate but cooperative content management systems. It also identifies a sequence for adopting a structured content environment that should counter any irrational exuberance for the nascent paradigm shift.

Structured content, as a phrase, most often means text and graphics wrapped in eXtensible Markup Language (XML). Strictly speaking, it doesn't have to be XML - any markup language could be the wrapper. But today, XML is the lingua franca of structured content interchange between various systems, so the common definition is sufficient. Within the family of structured content are two subspecies: 1) XML content conforming to a structural specification and 2) any other XML content. The distinction implies that any XML content conforming to rules found in a document type definition (DTD) or an XML schema is truly structured content. Anything else is more or less text and objects (perhaps pages and pages of them) surrounded by one or more XML tags.

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