Xerox tests language for document transformation

An experimental programming language posted on a Xerox Corp.-run Web site is designed to build applications that translate documents and data among different formats so that they can be read by any application or on any device.

The new document language, Circus-DTE, was developed at Xerox’s Research Centre of Europe in Grenoble, France. It is designed for “document translation” as documents and data are transferred between different devices and applications, Xerox said in a statement Wednesday.

Currently, it is difficult to manipulate and merge data from different formats, Xerox spokesman Bill McKee said Wednesday. “Think about using a PDF file, for example. You can read it but apart from that you can’t do a thing with it.” Using Circus-DTE, users can take data from any document, no matter what software has been used, and manipulate it as they wish, McKee said.

“We have printing vendors who get sources from multiple vendors and they need to be able to merge all that data,” he said.

Circus-DTE also translates each document so that it can be viewed from different devices such as laptops, PDAs (personal digital assistants) and mobile phones, the company said.

The site where the language is available,, is jointly managed by Xerox, of Stamford, Connecticut, and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York. It allows programmers and developers to try out software being developed by both Xerox and RIT, and may be expanded to cover software from other sources, McKee said.

Circus-DTE has been downloaded 100 times since it was first made available at the end of October and it is time to expand the user base, McKee said. “Now that we’ve had some trials it’s time to make more people aware of it.” he said. Making it available in this way gives Xerox “the world’s biggest test site” as it moves the product towards commercialization, McKee said.

It is too soon to tell whether Xerox will take the software to market at all, or whether it will sell it itself or license it to another company, he said.

Interest in the software has so far come from universities, private companies, individuals and government, Xerox said.