Re: Single Sourcing

Subject: Re: Single Sourcing
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "Melanie Shook" <mshook -at- com2001 -dot- com>, "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000 15:45:45 -0500

Ah, yes...we do this all the time. Check out our website for some examples
and hints:

We take care of this by creating in FrameMaker, which makes it easy to show
and hide conditional material. And we generally use our Clustar Method,
which isolates each task, so we put cross-references into the text if we
need to put tasks in sequence. At the head of each subsequent task, we'll
also have an Introduction Element with a cross-ref that says "You must have
done this or that, so go back now to..."

The single most important factor (no pun intended) of single source is a
strong organizational pattern. If you have that, life is relatively easy.
And for print/help single source, we really, really prefer a truly modular
structure that doesn't use transitions from task to task.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar(TM) System
"Better communication is a service to mankind."
Check our Web site for the upcoming Clustar class info

----- Original Message -----
From: Melanie Shook <mshook -at- com2001 -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Sent: Friday, March 31, 2000 3:11 PM
Subject: Single Sourcing

> Taking up the idea of starting a thread that discusses techcomm issues, I
> interested to learn what makes good single-sourcing. I am currently
> sourcing my printed and online help, but I am a novice and would like to
> know what other people do and improve what I am doing.
> What I have done is the following (very basic):
> 1.Conditionalize things that refer to printed only materials, such as
> chapter & page numbers.
> 2. Added (conditional) links at the bottom of each topic that refer to
> related topics. Generally, at the bottom of a heading1 topic, there are
> links to any additional pages that continue the task in heading1, usually
> all heading2 topics. So heading1 is kind of an overview of a large topic,
> with links to all the heading2s which break it down into usable chunks.
> of them can be performed independently, but some are in a necessary
order -
> you need to do 1, then 2. So the heading1 would say something like, "You
> need to do X, Y, and Z" with links to X, Y and Z.
> What I would like to do is create more of a flow from one task to another
> when one topic is necessary before another. Something like a "next"
> until you reach the end of that task. In addition, there would be "See
> Also" links for related independent topics.
> But I'm not quite sure how to accomplish this. I'm using HTML Help, which
> someone has told me typically uses the table of contents to navigate, but
> what if someone does a search and ends up in the middle of a large topic?
> How do they go back to the previous step, when they haven't been there?
> like to see an example of how someone successfully did this.
> Are other formats better at this? Is there a better way to do this with
> Help? Any thoughts?
> Melanie Shook
> Technical Writer
> (405) 419-7032
> mshook -at- com2001 -dot- com
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