Looking for viable single-source publishing solutions

Subject: Looking for viable single-source publishing solutions
From: "Klasovsky, Nick" <nklasovsky -at- nordson -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000 08:55:06 -0500

My Technical Communications department is looking for a viable single-source
publishing solution. Most of our documentation is distributed as printed
manuals, but we have recently started distributing documents to our field
service and sales staff as PDF files on CD-ROM, and we also post these same
files on our intranet.

We write manuals for industrial equipment, containing lots of large line
drawings, schematics, exploded isometric views, parts lists, and
troubleshooting charts. The printed manuals are published as 8.5 x 11
loose-leaf manuals in three-ring binders. Page count runs anywhere from a
single page to 200+ pages. We currently use Interleaf 6.4 for publishing,
and also to create our illustrations (vector graphics). We print directly
from Interleaf to Postscript printers. We convert the Interleaf files to PDF
to publish on CD-ROM and our intranet, and use Acrobat and Compose to add
bookmarks and links. The process is labor-intensive, even with the
automation Compose adds.

We have looked at Interleaf's Bladerunner and other XML authoring tools, but
the industry is full of hype and promises, the tools are expensive and
require in-house programmers (which we don't have), and we still have a lot
more questions than answers. It seems like the whole thrust of XML is Web
publishing, there is litle or no information on printing XML or using it to
publish on CD-ROM. Even publishing on the Web with XML seems a lot more
complicated than what we're doing now.

We must continue to publish printed documentation because not all our field
service representatives have laptops, nor do they have access to our
intranet from the field, and our customers typically do not have PCs out on
their shop floors.

Is there anybody out there in a similar situation? Does anybody out there
have any suggestions for us? Other solutions than XML? We would really
appreciate any input.

I receive the list as a digest, so please respond to my email address.

Nick Klasovsky
Technical Writer
Nordson Corporation
Amherst, OH
nklasovsky -at- nordson -dot- com

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