RE: Baiting for the single source rant

Subject: RE: Baiting for the single source rant
From: "Smith, Martin" <martin -dot- smith -at- encorp -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2001 08:49:51 -0600

Andrew Plato listed eight limitations of single sourcing and I think they
are all valid points, especially when single sourcing is used to produce
printed and on-line documentation. My question to Andrew is simply how
should one handle a situation where a large volume of information needs to
be duplicated in several manuals. I think one needs to factor in the costs
associated with validating the content and of the added maintenance
complications that arise when information resides in more than one place.

I am thinking of the need to describe thousands of firmware variables in a
developers manual and then reuse a subset of this information in training,
OEM, and other manuals as I described at length in a previous post. In our
case, we are interested in single sourcing simply because of the time,
effort, and cost associated with validating the accuracy of the
documentation that accompanies a given firmware release. It isn't enough in
this case to simply know the product. We need to ensure with a high degree
of certainty that the information presented is complete and accurate. Our
field service engineers and technical support personnel depend on this
information because the subtle changes that have been made to thousands of
variables from revision to revision and from product to product. When a
technical support person gets a question from the field the first question
is always, what version of the firmware do you have.

When a variable is described in a training manual, its description may be
tied directly to a specific firmware release. Single sourcing allows us to
release the developers manual describing all of the variables for a given
release, export this information to a database, and then dynamically update
all of the other manuals that use a subset of this information.

I can't believe that ours is the only company with strict validation




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