Re: Two questions for single-sourcing practitioners

Subject: Re: Two questions for single-sourcing practitioners
From: Char James-Tanny <CharJT -at- helpstuff -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2002 13:41:43 -0500

Hi, Dick :-)

I'm answering as best I can ;-) I think I'm missing something, so bear with me...

> I don't think this is getting at the root issue for me. It isn't so much about my assigning changes to others as it is about my knowing when changes need to be made in the first place.

Who knows that these changes need to be made? (Marketing, development, management, etc.) With AIT, you could create a topic where everyone tracks what they need done...the topic doesn't have to be part of a book, so it won't ever be generated. Folks open the database and add their information to the topic if they're part of the notification team or read the topic if they're part of the change-making team.

> Again, this is looking at the situation from the wrong end of the horse. However, if the system were linked with the Help development system, then every time a Help topic changed, that could be reflected in the SSDB, right?

errrr....I'm not sure. The only way a Help topic can change is through the SSDB...

Maybe that's where I'm misunderstanding the question??? The Help system is part of the SSDB, so if a topic is changed for Help, it's changed for any output that includes that topic.

> Again, the problem is different from what you are envisioning. Our marketing people are too busy to bother stepping on anyone else's prose. The question is how do we know to notify responsible individuals that their chunks need updating? What is the triggering event, and how is it tied to specific entries?

I don't know if AuthorIT includes a notification system or not...I don't think it does, but it hasn't been something I've needed, so I haven't looked.

Who would be the one who knows when a chunk needs updating? Could that person notify others when information needs to be changed (through e-mail, phone, a "group" topic, whatever works)?

> "A system that everyone must follow" is a non-starter in our company. Too many that-doesn't-apply-to-me narcissists. We can institute rules and policies until we're blue in the face, but nobody is going to follow them. Instead, we need to have benefits that incent people to cooperate and a system that is tolerant of a high level of nonconformance.

The system is (I think) tolerant...whoever is in charge can search for topics changed by date, object type, text included, or more. New objects can be added anywhere within the structure, and if someone moves them to a different place, they'll still be found. Whoever enters the information has to add it in the correct book (otherwise, it won't appear in the output), but that has to be do-able...right? (Oh, I hope you say "yes" ;-) )

> Unfortunately, this doesn't address the question I posed. I'm well aware that a style tag can trigger different behaviors in different contexts. But I'm not sure that a style tag applied at the paragraph level can deal with typographic niceties.

For the most part, AIT can. I had to test it to verify ;-)

I added a register mark, a copyright symbol, open and close quotes, em dash, and en dash. I assigned a character class of superscript to the register mark and copyright.

After generating HTML and Word output, in HTML, I got <sup class="superscript">®</sup>, <sup class="superscript">©</sup>, &quot;Open quotes - close quotes&quot;, plus the em and en dashes. In Word, everything displayed correctly, although the quotes came through as straight quotes. (Note: I just typed the quotes, I didn't assign a special style to them. I don't know if this matters or not. However, an Edit/Replace with Smart Quotes turned on changed them...I'm not sure if this would be acceptable for you or not, as people have different views on post-production.)

I ran into one problem...the superscript character style didn't get assigned in Word. (I'll report this to AIT to see if it was something I did or the way the program currently works.) And the superscript class doesn't look good in HTML, but that could be changed through the style definition. (Depending on whether I was going to need other information displayed as superscript in HTML, I would either modify the style by disabling superscript for HTML output, or I would create a second style for things like the copyright symbol that used superscript for print, but not for HTML.)

So, to answer your question:

> Can an XML style tag applied at the paragraph level manage these issues, or do I have to manage them manually every time I grab text out of the database?

According to my tests, you would have to replace the quotes and (until I figure out what went wrong) reassign the superscript in the print output. But the symbols all displayed correctly.

> Thanks for getting the ball rolling, Char.

No problem :-) Now the question is, how far can I get it??? ;-)

Let me know how badly I misunderstood the first part...I'll go eat lunch, maybe that will help my thinking process ;-)

Char James-Tanny (mailto:CharJT -at- helpstuff -dot- com)
JTF Associates, Inc. (

Consulting and Development for WinHelp, HTML Help, and Web-based Help
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Re: Two questions for single-sourcing practitioners: From: Dick Margulis

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