Single-sourcing

Subject: Single-sourcing
From: "Nealon, Jessica" <Jessica -dot- Nealon -at- McKesson -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 12:29:04 -0500

Geoff,

Thank you for your insight. You are one of the most concise and eloquent
responders on this list. I agree with you on the conceptual information you
provided. I think every tech writer would have to agree with you. I totally
understand the drawbacks of supposed single-sourcing. It is probably why
some of my colleagues have abandoned print totally.

However, as long as the current management wants a printed manual AND online
help, I have to find a way to give them what they want without making myself
1) completely insane (although I think I'm halfway there...all the more
reason to not accelerate the process :-)) or 2) burning out. Long-term, I
can work on changing minds, attitudes, and processes to be more in line with
what you describe--believe me, I work at it everyday. Short-term, however,
I have to turn in something I can manage. I think "manage" is the operative
word here. The volume of the current catalogue I am developing and now
maintaining means that I must develop something I can live with. Perhaps I
am too new at this, but I don't see how developing two help systems for one
product is manageable or realistic with such a heavy workload.

I am really asking for technical answers. I am prepared for the output not
living up to my quality standards for print and online help. I know that
going in. What I want to know is what does an imported doc (from Word to
RH2002) look like? What are the technical glitches? How do you have to
change the source doc to prepare it for importation? RH2002 claims to be
able to make entirely new topics for each heading that you chose (1,2,3, and
beyond). Does it really do that or is eHelp still dreaming? What does that
mean for the heading styles in the Word doc? Do you need to import before
you paginate? (We all know how tricky those manual page breaks can be.)
How does the time investment and end-result in the Word-to-RH2002 conversion
compare to the FM-to-WebWorks conversion? What gives me a better result for
my time? Is Word-to-RH2002 worse because of the end result, the process, or
the maintenance?

Isn't it funny how "single-sourcing" creates twice the work? :-)

Regards,

Jessica Nealon
Technical Writer

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