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We must be defining "content" differently, because I can't see doing
structure without content--you just can't do an outline on nothing and you
can't develop a structure for nothing.
I have to have some idea of what the content is going to be before I can do
any kind of structure. Whether it's an outline for an essay or a complete
set of DTDs, if you don't know what's in it, by at least simple definition,
you won't have a clue about how or why to structure it a certain way. What
does the product do, why does it do it, and why should anyone care? If you
have the answer to that, you have the start of content. If you don't have
an answer, you will have no clue as to whether your structure has successful
communicated the content.
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree-I just can't separate content and
structure so completely as you can.
From: Tim Altom [mailto:taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com]
Sent: Monday, June 12, 2000 4:23 PM
To: Giordano, Connie; TechDoc List
Subject: Re: Structure vs. Substance?
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.