Baiting for the single source rant

Subject: Baiting for the single source rant
From: "Glenn Maxey" <glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 5 Sep 2001 09:20:59 -0600

Hi Andrew,

Why are you being so hard on single-sourcing?

With some of the tools out there and a little bit of smarts, you can get
some pretty good results.

Maybe the rant that I am baiting you for will be along the lines that
the tools aren't completely perfect and that the person responsible for
getting the output formats is diverted from getting the output content.

I've been involved as a writer in the past on single-source projects
(home-grown tools) and got to implement single-sourcing at this job
(with primarily off-the-shelf tools).

In that past life, we had home-grown tools and a
writer-turned-programmer dedicated full-time to making it work mostly
because of his own failings. He was too ignorant to research for
off-the-shelf tools or to collaborate with others. However, what he
accomplished with his tools was easily worth three tech writers. (He not
only single-sourced from Interleaf to HTML, but he parsed the
source-code that we were documenting and produced change reports to
focus the efforts of the writers.)

In my current life, I admit to having a leg up by having a co-worker who
produced most of the content and a rock-solid template before I started.
I was freer to play with the off-the-shelf tools, because as the FNG the
amount of new content that I had to produce was parceled and manageable.
I did step up to the plate and put some extras around the out-of-the-box
generated output. However, now that the process is in place, the focus
on content can be in earnest.

Maybe the fact that I (we) did divert significant energy to get the
process in place is what you will rant about. There is some investment

Alas, I'm curious.

Glenn Maxey
Voyant Technologies, Inc.
Tel. +1 303.223.5164
Fax. +1 303.223.5275
glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Andrew Plato [mailto:intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com]
> Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2001 6:24 PM
> Cc: north -at- synopsys -dot- COM
> Subject: Re: Diverse Tools (was HTML editors)
> Ohhhhhh, single sourcing - don't even get me started on this
> astronomically huge glop of crap that has been shoved down
> tech writers
> throats by the seething hoards of STC conference attendees. Single
> sourcing is without a doubt the most overhyped concept in tech writing
> today. Sure, the idea of single sourcing is swell. But the reality is
> often nothing more than endless meetings, bickering, and
> fiddling at the
> expense of writing documents. I have picked up more contracts from
> red-faced development managers who had tech writers push
> intricate (read:
> useless) single sourcing solutions. I hear the same thing
> over and over
> again: "I paid the guy $50 an hour to write documentation and
> all he did
> was schedule meetings and build some template nobody wanted."


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