RE: Real value (was implementing single-source) - demonstrated!

Subject: RE: Real value (was implementing single-source) - demonstrated!
From: HALL Bill <bill -dot- hall -at- tenix -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 14:35:00 +1100 (EDT)

-----Original Message-----
From: Glenn Emerson [mailto:gemerso1 -at- rochester -dot- rr -dot- com]
Sent: Monday, 13 November 2000 12:50
To: HALL Bill
Cc: TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM
Subject: RE: Real value (was implementing single-source) - demonstrated!

Glenn Emerson replied,

>Just out of curiosity--how do you single source video? or sound? Can you
>single source Flash animation? I'd love to see one of those in print. Lets
>see Frame + SGML single source a CBT....

I don't know of any applications where this has actually been done. But if
thought about, the idea does have merit.

As I understand their history, the RMIT research institute that developed
the SIM product actually started out with something like this in mind (They
call themselves Multimedia Database Systems (MDS):
Video, sound, Flash animation etc. can all be captured as BLOBS and managed
as objects in a database. One of MDS's first applications was a Web content
delivery and management system for McQuarie Press to deliver encyclopedia
contents over the web comprised of: structured text, graphics, and possibly
even some sound bites).

Assuming you have a high level schema or DTD for a body of knowledge, there
is certainly no reason why you could not save both a high level element of
text combined with static graphics (which would undoubtedly have a more
detailed internal structure) and an equivalent video clip filling the same
role. From Tenix's point of view, if our client can be persuaded to pay us
to do it, the obvious application for they type of single-sourcing Glenn
suggests would be for maintenance routine to include video clips
demonstrating how perform particular steps in the procedure. Perhaps this
would include a specific language voice over. A static text/graphics
equivalent would be delivered to those without the bandwidth to manage the

I certainly see no problems thinking about and even drafting the alternative
presentations (e.g., multimedia vs text and static graphics) at the same
point in an overall content hierarchy; and I certainly don't see that this
proposal reduces the idea of 'single-sourcing' to absurdity. The major
difficulties I see with implementing precisely what Glenn proposes are
bandwidth and storage capacity, not limitations of either the applicability
of the single-sourcing concept or availability of the technology to manage
the content (text vs BLOBs). Without getting personal to any of the posters
on this topic, the idea of single-sourcing (let alone single sourcing
multimedia) is new enough that I believe a lot of people still haven't
understood the power of structured (as opposed to formatted) documentation,
how to manage it or how to best use it.

In Tenix's case, although our original word-processor based applications had
some very real limitations, in the Integrated Logistic Support area we have
been authoring and managing structured content with considerable success
since 1993. The only reason we have not yet implemented the methodology in
other areas of the company (e.g., for bids and contracts) is because some
areas of management still can't grasp business cases based on the fact that
documents are representations of logically structured knowledge not just
collections of formatted paper, video clips, etc; and that great benefits
can be gained from managing from managing and potentially repurposing
elements of content at levels lower than that of complete 'documents'.

Bill Hall
Documentation Systems Specialist
Integrated Logistic Support
ANZAC Ship Project
Tenix Defence Systems Pty Ltd
Williamstown, Vic. 3016 AUSTRALIA
Email: bill -dot- hall -at- tenix -dot- com <mailto:bill -dot- hall -at- tenix -dot- com>

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