RE: Baiting for the single source rant

Subject: RE: Baiting for the single source rant
From: TDean -at- envirosys -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 5 Sep 2001 17:06:23 -0400

I find all of your opinions on single sourcing very interesting and

I have been researching single sourcing for a few months now. But, I am
under the impression that single sourcing was great if you wanted to nail
down a standard style between technical writers. Single sourcing (SS)
locks in a style in order for the writers to concentrate more on content
instead of formatting, formatting, formatting.

Also, it depends on what tool(s) you are using for SS, you can
conditionalize certain text to appear only in printed documentation or
online help in Doc-to-Help and Author It. When you generate the output
(printed and online), text that is designated as online help only will only
appear in the help and vice versa. With Author It, you can do this with
topics or text inside the topics.

When I started working for my company six months ago, I presented the
problem of not having as much control over online help (we work mainly with
printed documentation, and just recently started generating online help for
our software). I suggested that maybe separating online help from printed
documentation altogether would produce better quality; however, I was shot
down by a fellow technical writer - that in fact, had sold management on
Doc-to-Help awhile back.

It is very hard convincing them otherwise. Currently, I am in favor of
using Author It instead of Doc-to-Help for our purposes so we can lock in a
standard style between all TWs. We have a lot of topics that are duplicated
from product to product, and we need more version/file control.

Comments? :)

Tina Dean



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