RE: Single Sourcing - Myth or Salvation? -- long

Subject: RE: Single Sourcing - Myth or Salvation? -- long
From: "Barb Einarsen" <barb -dot- einarsen -at- nettest -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 12 Mar 2002 16:15:45 -0500

Oh No! You've brought up the dreaded "what is single-sourcing" topic.


I'm answering as though single sourcing means writing a chunk of
information once and reusing it (not necessarily automatically) in
multiple output (guide, help, pdf ...).

1. Do you currently use single sourcing, are you thinking about it, or
will it happen over your dead body?

**Yes, I currently use it.

2. If you use it, how successful is it? Do the online results represent
good-quality online help? Do the printed documents represent
good-quality printed manuals?

**I write the guide which becomes a pdf with hyperlinks (not printed
except for the installation guide). I create help from this single
source, but I remove the screen shots and change chapter/page to topic
and so on. (In the future I am considering using topic in the pdf as

3. If you use it, how much overhead is there? (I.e., does it take just
as long, longer, or less time than it would to do both separately?) How
do you know?

**Because I don't automagically generate help from book/book from
help/space from time, there is really no overhead.

**It takes MUCH less time to write something once, have it reviewed and
finalized, then move it into another format. I also believe the customer
gains from the consistency and having everything available from each
medium (for example, if I need a field definition, I can look in the
Index of the User Guide or search in the Index/Search function of the
online help).

4. Is it worth doing?

**Why, yes.

5. Briefly describe the process and techniques you use to create single
source materials.

**Research, write content, technical review, peer review, rewrite, final
approval, move to other mediums.

6. Did you invent your own solution, inherit the solution, or learn from
someone else (Hackos, etc.)?

**It's my own solution, but I've learned from MANY professionals along
the way. Some of whom are on this list.

7. How big is your company? [Small = < 100 people Medium = <500 people
Large = < 1000 people XLarge = > 1001 people]

**The company is XLarge, this division is Large, but it feels small.

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