RE: Baiting for the single source rant

Subject: RE: Baiting for the single source rant
From: Darren Barefoot <Darren -dot- Barefoot -at- capeclear -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 5 Sep 2001 16:44:49 +0100

I'm with Mr. Maxey on this one. At my last job, we had an 1100 topic help
system. Months earlier we had decided to dispense with our printed manuals
and, so, the FrameMaker files moldered. Near the release, product management
changed its mind and decided we needed a printable PDF. Instead of trying to
resurrect the way-out-of-date FrameMaker files, we decided to use RoboHelp
to generate printed docs which we eventually converted into a PDF. It took
some serious setting up and fiddling with, but we devised a workable
solution that has saved many hours over the past 18 months. It was the best
solution at the time and still is, in terms of generating a help system and
printable PDF from the same source.

In fact, speaking of a template nobody wanted, I recently posted an article
to my Web site that referred to some macros used in this single-sourcing
process. Several people have contacted me about them, so it would seem
there's at least some interest in these processes. DB.

-----Original Message-----
From: Glenn Maxey [mailto:glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com]
Sent: 05 September 2001 16:21
Cc: north -at- synopsys -dot- COM
Subject: Baiting for the single source rant

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.)



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