The best explanation can be found in two papers. Please see Simons and Black (2009) for an explanation of the key notions and motivations. Then see Black (2009) for how XLingPaper addresses these notions.
Linguists commonly face three obstacles in formatting papers. First, all examples are numbered in a paper. If during the writing process the author discovers a need to insert an example, then the numbering of all following examples and all references to those examples within the text need to be re-adjusted. This mechanical change can be both time-consuming and prone to error. Similarly, if the author decides to reorder some examples, then the numbering needs to be adjusted appropriately. XLingPaper provides an automatic way to facilitate such numbering and renumbering.
Secondly, linguists cite the work of other researchers using a standard citation format. This format functions essentially as an abbreviation or reference to the full citation entry which appears in the references section of the paper. The burden of maintaining consistency between citation and reference typically falls totally on the author. Many a reader has been disappointed to find a citation to a paper in the body of a paper for which there is no entry in the references section. XLingPaper provides an automatic means for a writer to maintain consistency; all citations in the text must have a corresponding entry in the references. Conversely, XLingPaper will include only those entries in the references section which are cited in the text. This latter characteristic implies that one can maintain one master list of references and merely include it in any given paper. Only those references actually cited in the given paper will appear in the references section.
Thirdly, linguists commonly use a set of abbreviations while glossing examples. They usually include either a list of the abbreviations and their definitions in a footnote, in a special front-matter page, or in a back-matter page. As for citations and references, the burden of maintaining consistency between the abbreviations used in the text and the abbreviations defined in the list typically falls totally on the author. Many a reader has been disappointed to find an abbreviation in a gloss for which there is no corresponding entry in the list of abbreviations. XLingPaper provides an automatic means for a writer to maintain consistency; the author can make it so all abbreviations in the text must have a corresponding entry in the list of abbreviations. Conversely, XLingPaper will include only those abbreviations in the list of abbreviations which are actually used in the text. This latter characteristic implies that one can maintain one master list of abbreviations and merely include it in any given paper. Only those abbreviations actually cited in the given paper will appear in the list of abbreviations. By the way, XLingPaper also creates a hyperlink between the abbreviation in the text and the abbreviation in the list of abbreviations. Thus, a reader can click on the abbreviation and see what it means.
In addition, in some formatting systems such as HTML, headers (i.e. h1, h2, etc.) are not automatically numbered. XLingPaper will automatically number all parts, chapters, and sections. Furthermore, one may create references to parts, chapters, or sections and these will display as hyperlinks to them, using the appropriate number.
Since XLingPaper is in XML, it also can serve as an archiving format.
One can use XLingPaper to produce linguistic papers with at least five outputs:
- Webpages (i.e. HTML) which can be loaded into a web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer version 5.5 or later).
- PDF file which can be read with a PDF Reader (e.g. Adobe Reader 7.0)
- Microsoft Word 2003 format
- Open Office Writer format