XML, tech writing, Intercom

Subject: XML, tech writing, Intercom
From: avobert -at- twh -dot- nbg -dot- de (Alexander Von_obert)
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: 12 May 00 19:12:02 +0000


* Antwort auf eine Nachricht von JDelmerico -at- brokatfs -dot- com an All am 04.05.00

JJ> I was invited to some of the developers' initial meetings to
JJ> determine how
JJ> their use of XML would affect my job of writing the help.

you can use XML like another version of RTF - that is what Winword does, if
you wish to call that XML.

XML introduced with its full potential has about the same impact on our job as
DTP had: Ten years ago you had to tell people that "formatting" a table using
spaces was a bad idea. Today you must tell the authors that WYSIWYG is dead -
must be dead because you have more than one output document instance.

Instead you must start to think in strictly defined structures. You MUST
satisfy the structure definition (DTD or what you have instead). What you see
on your screen is some service from the software configuration staff but no
image of any output format that might be used on your document. You might not
even be able to control which parts of your document are output in what order
and what gets mixed between.

JJ> And most importantly, does the use of XML
JJ> enhance my users' efficiency, productivity, and knowledge of
JJ> the product I'm documenting?

If done right, you might produce much more consistent documents that are easy
to use electronically. In my Web sites some 10-20% of all texts is created
automatically. And this is mostly for cross-reference. E.g. if you find a hot
word it says _exactly_ the name of the page you can jump to. And if I change
the name of that page and have 30 references to that page all 30 references
changed automatically.

This way my Web site has some 240 pages and (on HTML level) some 7,000 to
10,000 internal links. On source document level there are some 700 relations
between information nodes.

Go to http://www.tc-forum.org. There you can see what an average of 20 links
per page can be used for. You can even get something for free: An
international journal for technical writers. In the next (paper) edition I
will describe a bit of the technology I use there. BTW: That's not XML, but
some basic principles are the same.

Greetings from Germany,

Alexander von Obert, Urbanstr. 2, 90480 Nuernberg, Germany
Free-lance technical writer (electronics, software)
Voice +49-911-403903, Fax -403904, BBS -403905 (FIDO 2:2490/1719)
avobert -at- techwriter -dot- de http://www.techwriter.de

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