The advantage of a blog is that it offers a platform to talk about things for which there is hardly time nor a place in normal marketing. However: Actually I have been asked this question many times through the years (for the last time on this year’s tekom meeting) and there is indeed an answer to it. And this is the story…
Once upon a time there was a computer scientist who, trying to finish his thesis, had programmed a small yet powerful piece of software. This software formed the forerunner and core of the first product of SCHEMA with the name “SchemaText”. The user interface looked like this:
On the top in the title bar of this screenshot one can still see that this version had been compiled for the tekom meeting in 1995. Then the computer scientist (Marcus Kesseler) and the linguist (Stefan Freisler) thought that the whole world would certainly love this software and founded “SCHEMA”.
The linguist had then, by the way, also still cherished the illusion that a thesis could be written ‘on the side’. Both later on appointed themselves to “Dr. Schub.” (Schub = positioned in drawer, the German word being ‘Schublade’). When you look at what happens to other theses that were produced in “years of meticulous and detailed work” and “alongside a challenging profession”, it might be better like this… but I am digressing.
The name “SCHEMA” was by the way chosen deliberately as we also intended to implement THE formula for success in computer sciences, which is a ‘schema-based approach’ for the creation of hypertext. Some say that we succeeded and that is why the name of the first product is “SchemaText”.
Whoever is interested can read the meanwhile historic article by Marcus Kesseler on the W3C conference of 1995.
In addition to a name each company needs a logo as well. The graphic designer who received our order to create a logo was inspired by the SchemaText user interface and came up with the following suggestion:
The small rectangles and the arrows from the user interface were simply adopted. By the way: The small rectangles are according to official SCHEMA terminology still today’s “nodes” in SCHEMA ST4. But even then – long before DITA – it had been possible to write topic-based… well some things seem to gain acceptance only slowly.
Anybody can see that this design is much too confusing and therefore after some time it developed into the following logo:
Some years later this also became too confusing and instead of in the background the small squares are now positioned next to the name in today’s design:
That is the explanation on the origin of the 3 small squares in the logo!
“SchemaText” was cancelled after version 3 and instead we continued with our follow-on product “SCHEMA ST4”. “SchemaText Version 3” had been shortened to “ST 3” by insiders. As we did not want to carry out an extensive name search we just called the follow-up product “SCHEMA ST4”.
That is the other explanation. So everything is logical and organized, I am almost tempted to call it ‘schematic’.
P.S.: Some courageous customers pointed out the negative connotations connected in German with the saying “to do something according to schema F” (to do something according to the book). This conveys the feeling that something is done in an uninspired and tenacious manner. Accidentally that is exactly what we want: The computer may well tenaciously carry out the uninspired processes for us while we can deal with the creative tasks e.g. writing a blog entry.