RE: Single Source the cheap and dirty way

Subject: RE: Single Source the cheap and dirty way
From: "Beth Kane" <kanerb -at- concentric -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 8 Sep 2001 08:11:35 -0700

For five years I worked for a great company that created both manuals and
online help for every product. We discovered that writing the online help
topics first provided a helpful single-source type of situation, because
online help is highly modular by nature. Every topic is separate and mobile.

Once the instructions in the online help were deemed totally accurate, we
copied and pasted them into the right places in the manual. Meanwhile, we
had been developing the manual's chapter organization, introductory stuff,
etc. There is some rewriting involved because topics are introduced
differently in a book -- there's more of a flow. But it didn't take that
long to make adjustments. The stuff we were able to most easily copy and
paste straight into the book were the how-tos/tasks/steps.

We tried it the other way -- write the manual first, then paste from the
manual into the help -- and found it to be more difficult and

We didn't feel that updating the info in two places was burdensome. We would
update it in the help first, then paste it into the book. We used Search to
locate the right places for the updates -- it's very speedy.

This was a situation like the one Andrew described -- NOT a gigantic,
long-lived doc set. True single-sourcing would have taken more time to
develop than it would have been worth. We were very happy with our methods.

Beth Kane
Tech writer, NCS Learn's Technical Services Org.
kanerb -at- concentric -dot- net


A landmark hotel, one of America's most beautiful cities, and
three and a half days of immersion in the state of the art:
IPCC 01, Oct. 24-27 in Santa Fe.

+++ Miramo -- Database/XML publishing automation. See us at +++
+++ Seybold SFO, Sept. 25-27, in the Adobe Partners Pavilion +++
+++ More info: +++

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Single Source the cheap and dirty way: From: Mike Starr

Previous by Author: Re: UNIX or Unix?
Next by Author: What if they can't spell?
Previous by Thread: Single Source the cheap and dirty way
Next by Thread: RE: Single Source the cheap and dirty way

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads