Re: advice for single-sourcing ( Framemaker + Webworks)

Subject: Re: advice for single-sourcing ( Framemaker + Webworks)
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001 10:22:34 -0700 (PDT)

"GILLIOTTE Valérie" wrote..

> We are starting a new project, which is rewriting all our documentation with
> single-sourcing in mind. We will be using Frame and WWP. Up till now we had
> two separate sets of files for Print and Help (using Word not Frame). We are
> therefore new to Framemaker, WWP and ... single-sourcing!
> We have started to define a template in Frame. Now and before moving to the
> writing part to test our template we want to know more about the pitfalls of
> single-sourcing with those tools (about documentation structure etc.).

Have you asked yourself the truly important questions:

1. Are you really going to save time in the end, or are you doing this just
because you can?

2. Have all the writers in your group mastered the content aspects? Remember,
if you put garbage into a single-source system you get well-formatted garbage

3. Are you prepared to spend an enormous amount of time building and testing
this system? Months perhaps.

4. Have other areas of your organization bought into single-sourcing? It will
be a total waste of time if all the other departments don't use or at least
accept your new system.

5. Are you able to produce material in a timely basis "the old way?" The new
way will not necessarily be faster at first.

Valérie, as anybody on TECHWR-L knows I am a strong critic of single-sourcing.
I think most single-sourcing projects are undertaken because the writers want
something else to do than write. The fact is, single-source is very difficult
to do correctly and often does not work in the utopian ways the articles tell
you. I've helped a lot of clients dismantle single-source systems because they
never worked they way some consultant or article in Framer of Fortune magazine

Maybe you have already done this (which would be cool), but you should do a
cost-benefit analysis on such a system. How much (in time and money) is this
going to cost and what benefits will you get? I've read a few articles that
attempted to make a c/b case for single sourcing - most failed to take into
account the true cost of a system in personnel, lost productivity, etc. Also,
if you are going down this road, you should develop a comprehensive project
plan and estimate, get it approved, and stick to it.

If you can pass all those tests, then you're ready for single-source (maybe).

>From that point on - all I can say is what others said. Develop a rock-solid
template, forget ever free-formatting, and keep your documents painfully

Andrew Plato

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