In the general IT context, formatting primarily means the preparation of a storage medium for the recording of data. For example, the physical division of a hard disk into tracks and sectors, partitioning or the logical division of the partition structure with a file system, etc.
In contrast, in the context of word processing, document creation and output management, the formatter refers to the interpretation of the text markup contained in the source code of a document, which determines its layout and design. The result of this formatting is a document that, for example, appears on the screen exactly as it would appear on the printer, including applied language-specific rules for hyphenation and spell checking – the well-known WYSIWYG principle. As the core process of document creation, the Formatter is usually part of standard software for word processing, document creation and output management.
In Swiss-speaking countries, the term formatter is used synonymously with the overall system of this standard software. M/TEXT as a professional system for document creation is known in Switzerland as a formatter.
In this context, it should be noted that not only the M/TEXT Formatter takes into account various European languages for hyphenation and spell checking. M/TEXT also has multilingual user interfaces and a well thought-out organization of multilingual text resources – right down to the definition of a paragraph language that is only valid for one paragraph. This greatly facilitates the design of multilingual applications in a country like Switzerland.
In order to meet the requirements of multi-channel output, the M/TEXT Formatter was developed in such a way that the original structural information of the text, such as paragraph, heading, footer, etc. is preserved. The formatted document becomes a container for a wide variety of structural and metadata, which allows the document to be given any format at the latest point in the document process: at output. For example, to render it in a page-independent HTML format that dynamically adapts to the screen size on mobile devices.
Together with the output management system M/OMS, which takes over the tasks of optimizing and outputting the documents, the Series M/ succeeds in creating a continuous, efficient document process that is completely controlled by a consistent system.