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Subject:Re: Structure vs. Substance? From:Michele Davis <mdavis -at- bitstream -dot- net> To:TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Mon, 12 Jun 2000 15:33:50 -0500
Tim, I found your diatribe especially interesting, and since I have no work to
do, and am so bored with my life, I decided to respond. I have NEVER in 12 years
of college (1 BA, 1 MA and 1 MFA) written an outline BEFORE creating any
writing. Why would you create a written structure when the entire structure, or
in my case, let's say thesis, is all stored in the enormous database called my
I agree with Connie, to a point, you need both content and process. But process
is not the end all be all, unless you work for the bloody American government--I
won't even GO there. Look at Postal employees, sheesh, what a pile of
paperweights all in one place, spending our money for tons of sw and doco. that
sit on shelves. I KNOW this for a fact. If anyone cares to see what postal
cranks out, I would be more then willing to send a .chm to people. I interviewed
a guy who thot he was hot, and his stuff sucked. There's process for you.
> I'm sorry, Connie, but I must disagree. Structure can exist quite
> independently of content, and often does. This is the basis for all of SGML,
> in fact. Databases aren't developed with content, but with structure...the
> content comes later. If you can work with DocBook, the mammoth DTD developed
> for SGML documentation, you'll find that it works for just about every
> possible situation...all with no content being added yet. Haven't you ever
> written an outline for an English class before you started writing? That's
> structure predating content.
> Structure can and should come before content, because the entire
> documentation cycle can be defined and tested before you write word one.
> Structure definitions also make it possible for various writers to work
> together without bumping too badly into one another. It permits single
> source technology to be deployed without having to wait for content to be
> written. I've done several projects in which I knew IN ADVANCE how my links
> were going to be distributed in a help file, despite having not written a
> single topic. That permitted me to create a shell file, which in turn
> permitted developers to work on both linkage and output issues, and let me
> design and test templates, styles, mappings, and other hooks.
> Tim Altom