Re: Simultaneous Author Access to files [Cross-posted to HATT And Tec hwr-L]

Subject: Re: Simultaneous Author Access to files [Cross-posted to HATT And Tec hwr-L]
From: Sandy Harris <sandy -at- storm -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2000 12:11:54 -0400

jgarison -at- ide -dot- com wrote:
> I have five writers in my group, and we're constantly tripping each other up
> when we try to access our files for updating. Currently we're using Word 97
> (Word 2000 just doesn't cut it) and ForeHelp.

Except for a browser and some games I don't do Windows so I cannot say anything
useful about those tools.

> Neither of these tools lets us
> work efficiently as a group since only one person can have read/write access
> to any one file at a time.
> Are there ANY tools and/or Document Management Systems that will let us have
> free rein to open and edit whatever needs editing, regardless of whether
> someone else is using it or not? Or am I asking for the Holy Grail here?

Methinks your problem isn't management tools, but document organisation.
Split the files up into smaller chunks, such that in most cases two writers
working on the same document are likely to be in different files, and any
source management system should cope.

Using small files and building larger docs from them is straightforward in
many systems. I use free tools and HTML as a base format. htmldoc from gives multiple formats, auto table of contents, ...
The Amaya browser/editor from will combine files, generate
TOC, do XHTML output, ...

Commercial tools can also handle this. e.g. I haven't used Frame since
4.something in the early 90's. That version supported a book/chapter
abstraction quite well. My understanding is that current versions do
too. Someone else in the thread has suggested that as a solution for
your problem.

If Word cannot manage a chapter/book organisation in some useful way,
then I'd say you have a broken tool and should scrap it.

e.g. I use HTML files managed by CVS, a standard tool in any Linux or
BSD distribution. Repository has master files. Each writer/coder/whatever
can check out a set, check in changes, or get changes checked in by others.

Some things are automatic:

If we change: then:

two different files both changes go in
different parts of same file both changes go in
overlapping parts 2nd check in fails

If your check in fails because I've already changed that text,
you get an error message. You can see all three versions -- yours,
mine and original -- and you decide on a fourth that goes in. Of
course, in some cases you'll need to call me first, or leave my
changes in and send me some email suggesting yours.

Learn how to develop HTML-based Help with Macromedia Dreamweaver!
Dec. 7-8, 2000, Orlando, FL -- $100 discount for STC members. or 800-646-9989.

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