RE: Single-sourcing

Subject: RE: Single-sourcing
From: "David Knopf" <david -at- knopf -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 10:00:47 -0800

Nealon, Jessica wrote:

| I don't see how developing two help systems for one
| product is manageable or realistic with such a heavy workload.

It isn't. You're absolutely right. The whole point of single sourcing is
to make it possible for your to create ONE set of source documents and
then, from that ONE set of source document, AUTOMATICALLY generate
multiple deliverables--a printed manual, an online Help system, a
collection of PDF files, whatever.


| 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.

Well, OK, but you don't have to! Let me answer your technical questions
and then address what I think is the more important issue.


| I know that
| going in. What I want to know is what does an imported doc (from Word
to
| RH2002) look like?

It looks a lot like the document looked in MS Word, except it's been
broken up into lots of smaller chunks.


| What are the technical glitches?

Depends on the quality of the Word document. If it's a perfectly
structured Word document based only on styles with no manual formatting,
there won't be too many glitches. Otherwise, well, it depends on what
kind of glitches are in the Word document.


| How do you have to
| change the source doc to prepare it for importation?

Well, you don't have to change anything, but as I mentioned, if the
document is perfectly structured and styled, there will be fewer
glitches when importing.


| 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?

It really does that.


| What does
| that
| mean for the heading styles in the Word doc?

I don't understand the question.


| Do you need to import before
| you paginate? (We all know how tricky those manual page breaks can
be.)

No. Pagination doesn't make any difference.


| How does the time investment and end-result in the Word-to-RH2002
| conversion
| compare to the FM-to-WebWorks conversion?

With RH, there's less up front investment in setting things up but much
more repetitive work over the entire life cycle of the project. With
Frame/WWP, there's more up front investment in setting things but but
hardly any repetitive work during the rest of the life cycle of the
project.


| What gives me a better result
| for
| my time? Is Word-to-RH2002 worse because of the end result, the
process,
| or
| the maintenance?

For single source projects that involve both print and online
deliverables, Word/RH is inferior in terms of the end result, the
process, and the maintenance.


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

Ah, but it doesn't. It's the multiple source process you describe here
(first Word, then RH) that doubles the work. Using a true single source
process, you do the work ONCE in ONE place and then automatically
produce multiple deliverables.

Any workflow that involves importing from one product to another and
then editing what you've imported is NOT a single source workflow. Any
workflow that involves exporting from one product to another and then
editing what you've exported is NOT a single source workflow.

With Frame/WWP, you create all your content in one place (FrameMaker),
including the content you want in print and the content you want online.
You create WWP templates that define how you want your FrameMaker
content converted to your target output formats (e.g., HTML Help,
WinHelp, JavaHelp, etc.). Once you've set it up, you generate your
output by clicking a single button. You do not ever under any
circumstances need to edit or tweak the generated output.

Now, if you're doing a one-off project -- that is, a document that will
be produced and distributed once but will not need to be updated and
maintained -- then the investment in setting up a true single source
workflow is not cost-effective. If, on the other hand, you are creating
a large document (or document set) that will be updated and distributed
frequently, the time and cost savings during the project life cycle can
be huge.

Single sourcing is definitely not the right solution for every project.
But if single sourcing makes does make sense for your project and you
must produce both printed (or PDF) and online deliverables, you will be
much better off using tools that can actually do this well. RoboHelp is
great Help authoring tool, but it's not a single sourcing tool.
FrameMaker is not much of a Help authoring tool, per se, but combined
with WebWorks Publisher, it's one heck of a single sourcing tool.

Regards,

D.

David Knopf @ Knopf Online / San Francisco, CA / 415.550.8367
mailto:david -at- knopf -dot- com / http://www.knopf.com

WebWorks Publisher Certified Trainer
RoboHelp MVP & Certified RoboHelp Instructor
Member, RoboHelp Community Advisory Board
Member, JavaHelp 2.0 Expert Group
Moderator, HATT & wwp-users




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References:
Single-sourcing: From: Nealon, Jessica

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