20 Feb 2023

SME Member of the Week: DeltaXML

DeltaXML is this week's SME Member of the Week. This month, techUK are showcasing SMEs who have been successful in recruiting digital apprentices and illustrating the positive impact this has had on their business. 

DeltaXML are specialists in XML and JSON change management, offering tools that can support XML and JSON data practices.

How did your company start?

My background is in engineering, and you do not have to work long in industry to realise that managing change forms a fundamental part of that discipline. So, in the 1990s I was working on change management in electronic designs and printed circuit boards and developed techniques for handling change more effectively. I was at the same time working with a US standards organisation, the Electronic Industries Association (EIA), and saw the important role that standards play.

Robin La Fontain, Founder and CEO, DeltaXML

When XML was introduced as a new standard in 1998-9, I saw it as an extremely useful, generic format for representing data in engineering and also in many other fields. We therefore looked at migrating our change management technology to handle XML data and, in the early 2000s we developed DeltaXML. Our first patent was applied for in 2000 and our first product was launched on to the market in 2001.

Since then, although many of our customers still use our products to manage changes in XML data, an increasing proportion now use DeltaXML in the production of structured documents, for example, aircraft operation and maintenance manuals, pharmaceutical labelling etc. In these areas, monitoring changes is absolutely critical for both safety and regulatory reasons.

Over the last 20 years, DeltaXML has grown steadily and, although still a relatively small company, we supply software for managing change to data and documents to some very large organisations throughout the world. Our technology is patented, and no other company is as dedicated to this area of expertise as we are. Our second patent was applied for in 2007 and further patent applications in 2013 and 2022. We have certification to ISO 9001 for quality management and ISO 27001 for data security.

How does your company contribute to this month's theme?

Our software is designed to address a particularly specialised set of applications and requires highly skilled personnel to develop and enhance its capabilities. The skills required are not easy to find on the open market, so it is very important for us to nurture these skills in-house. Digital apprenticeship forms a vital part of this process, so we take talented computer science students and educate them in the techniques and applications specific to our industry.

For example, our apprentice Callum Davies was recruited via TDM, an apprenticeship agency local to Worcester and Birmingham, having studied Computing to NVQ Level 3 at 6th form college. He has been with DeltaXML for 4 years and has just completed his final dissertation in a 3-year course leading to a BSc (Hons) as a Digital and Technology Professional. His dissertation is based on work done at DeltaXML. This qualification is accredited by the University of Wolverhampton.

During his time at DeltaXML, Callum was assigned a mentor to provide on-the-job training and he was given time as necessary for private study. DeltaXML also contributed to the costs of his tuition. When he first joined DeltaXML Callum worked on systems administration and then on developing our new product licensing system. More recently he has been an essential member of the team developing APIs (application programming interfaces). Callum is now a valuable member of our development group and is a full-time Software Developer doing independent work helping to develop our next generation of products.

He says: "I am very grateful to DeltaXML for supporting me through my 3-year degree course".

To quote Tejas Barhate, our Development Manager: "As a member of our Scrum team, Callum is making a valuable contribution to the development of our product range".

Who's behind your company?

DeltaXML's greatest asset is our dedicated team of highly skilled and motivated software developers, all experts in the field of change management in XML and JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) data. They are the embodiment of our company values: friendly and informal, focused on change in structured documents and data, innovative, with patents to prove it, but also respectful of each other, our customers, the law and the environment. As an organisation we pride ourselves on being reliable and trustworthy; this is borne out by the fact that some of our customers have been with us for our entire 20-year history.

DeltaXML Team meeting

At DeltaXML we place an exceptionally high value on openness, teamwork, collaboration, and support. Discussion and debate are actively encouraged alongside the need to listen to and respect the views of others. We foster a rewarding and stimulating business culture where everyone is valued and part of a winning team. We work hard, have fun and, because we all share in our vision to create an unrivalled product and ongoing service, we pull together as one to make this a reality.

To quote Sasha Hayden, our Marketing Manager: "Initially, I joined DeltaXML to gain experience during a summer internship while I was attending university, but five years later, I'm still here. I think this shows what a positive company DeltaXML is. They supported me in my learning throughout and after leaving university, offering me training, guidance, and assurance. I was able to get involved in so many different projects and now they trust me to make decisions as Marketing Manager. The team surrounding me meant I was able to thrive."

DeltaXML Sales and Marketing Team.

Steering the company into the future is our management team led by our COO Mark Thomas, with myself as CEO, our Product Director Tristan Mitchell, and Director of Marketing Bridget Mason.

Mark has taken over the day-to-day running of our company, having had more than 30 years' experience working as a developer and entrepreneur in the digital marketplace, including over 20 years as a board member with several organisations. Mark has particular responsibility for driving sales and bringing new products to market.

I have recently stepped back from my role in routine management in favour of Mark and have gone back to my first love, Research and Development. I work closely with our Development team in pushing our technology forward and building our vision of DeltaXML's future.

Tristan is responsible for developing our product road map and ensuring that product upgrades, new releases, and new products come to market in a timely way. As he says: "We have an ever-expanding product suite and while we have products that have been in use for some 20 years, we are always looking for new and exciting opportunities to apply our expertise elsewhere. So, whether it's using technologies like SaaS deployment, or expansion into newer formats like JSON, we aim to make our tools available to a wider audience so that more companies can benefit from them."

We show how easy it is to trial our software in our recent blog.

Bridget, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, has over 25 years' experience developing B2B marketing and communications activities. She helps drive our business growth by aligning our marketing objectives and activities with our overall business goals. She and her team are continually looking at new ways to improve lead generation, brand recognition and customer loyalty.

What’s your perspective on the present and the future of this month's theme?

As DeltaXML continues to grow and innovate we have a constant requirement to recruit software developers who have the requisite skills to generate new products while also enhancing the functionality of our existing products. As we supply software for specialist applications, these skills are not always available from outside the company, so we need to develop them internally. Digital apprenticeships are an excellent way of doing this, benefiting both DeltaXML and the students involved. Incidentally, this process also benefits local educational establishments, thus indirectly benefiting the whole local community, of which our company forms a part.

For DeltaXML, the benefits of having new developers studying computing to degree level are many, as they grow to a higher level. For example, they learn about the theoretical and mathematical foundations of programming, enabling them to be better, more flexible, and more mature in their coding. Callum's course also included modules covering some of the business issues around software development such as strategy, ROI etc. All this extended his usefulness to our company..

Recent Success

Over the last few years, we have added several new products to our core XML Compare offering. These have included XML Merge for merging multiple XML files, XML Data Compare, optimised for data rather than documents, and DeltaJSON, which brings equivalent functionality to JSON data. We have also introduced a suite of SaaS (Software as a Service) products, designed to provide an alternative implementation model to our traditional on-premise offerings. These products have been taken up and used enthusiastically by global players in aerospace, semiconductor, publishing, and other industries. Callum has worked on a specific aspect of our core comparison and merge algorithm, evaluating performance improvements which will be included in forthcoming updates to our software.

Our most recent releases included a new comparison feature for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) which is an XML grammar. Most people will not be aware that the diagrams and illustrations they see in the manuals for house appliances, but also extremely complex documents like aircraft manuals, are often stored as SVG and our software is used to compare both content and images. This is of particular interest to technical illustrators who provide the diagrams, graphs etc. included in manuals and other technical documents.

What does the future look like for your company?

DeltaXML continues to grow in both turnover and staff numbers as we innovate and remain at the front of XML and JSON transformation software for enterprises. With new features from our Research and Development department like SVG comparison and improvements to our advanced algorithms such as those to which Callum contributed, we continue to be an important solution for global organisations working in technical documentation and XML content in general. 

Asks for other members  

Our XML and JSON enterprise software solutions can help other members with data processing as well as content management, enabling complex and accurate comparison and merge operations. With both on-premise and cloud-based SaaS solutions that members can build into their application code or workflows we are able to help transform data and content. Why not visit our website to find out more about our incredibly versatile products and download a trial to evaluate. We can find change where change matters..

More information

Website: www.deltaxml.com/

LinkedIn: DeltaXML

Blog - All our software pre-installed ready to go on AWS Server Image (AMI)

SME Member of the Week: March, Women in Tech

For March's SME Member of the Week, we’ll be focusing on Women in Tech. Throughout March, techUK is discussing actions tindustry can take towards equal representation in the sector. We are keen to showcase how SME members are supporting this women in tech and supporting gender diversity.