RE: Two questions for single-sourcing practitioners

Subject: RE: Two questions for single-sourcing practitioners
From: "David Knopf" <david -at- knopf -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2002 12:48:45 -0800

Dick Margulis wrote:

| Now the next RFP comes along, some weeks or months later. I go to the
| database and somehow find the chunks of text I need to respond to the
| questions (or, ideally, someone else does--hey, it could happen). But
| this point the sixty-four dollar question--the one I posed initially,
| the way--is this: How do I _know_ that the answer I'm retrieving is
| accurate? I know what date it was written and by whom. I can tie it to
| some prior version of the software. But there are a lot of features
| are stable and are not going to change anytime soon. So the fact that
| response is old doesn't mean it's wrong. HOW CAN I TELL?

You can't. I don't think there is a content management, knowledge
management, or single source system that will analyze the content for
you and let you know if it's accurate and up-to-date. (Hey, if we could
come up with a system like these, we could probably retire very early!)

| >> 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
| the SSDB, right?
| >
| >errrr....I'm not sure. The only way a Help topic can change is
| the SSDB...
| Yes but ...
| In another current thread, John Garison is extolling the wonders of
| Dreamweaver as the Help authoring system. That system ain't broke, so
| have no inclination to fix it. Therefore, if I'm going to rely on Help
| topics for content, I have to link (automatically and transparently)
| John's system; I'm not going to ask John to abandon it in favor of a
| single-sourcing effort.

There shouldn't be a need for John to drop Dreamweaver or substantially
modify his workflow. Dreamweaver (like any similar tool) just works with
objects (HTML files, CSS files, graphics files, etc.). Objects can be
stored and managed. (But you still need the human element to determine
if the content of the objects is accurate and up-to-date.)

| Now you understand the problem. People are living in their own little
| worlds and do not really consider who needs to be notified outside
| own departmental hierarchies (I don't think this is unusual, by the
| Proactive notification would require that someone think of the needs
| others--which requires more maturity than many people can muster.

I don't think this situation is terribly unusual, either, though I have
worked with a number of organizations that didn't manifest these
particular issues. Some people try to address these issues by imposing
process(es), but in my experience you can't successfully impose
process(es) on people who aren't buying.

| Not sure I'm following what you did/what you tested. What I'm looking
| is differential output, so that a register mark comes out as a
| in Word but not a superscript in HTML and "(R)" in plain text. Or a
| (grammatical mark) comes out as space-en dash-space in Word but
| hash-151-semicolon (without surrounding spaces) in HTML and
| in plain text. As I said, this gets subtle.

This, I think, is the only part of your inquiry that touches on "single
sourcing" as opposed to content or knowledge management. I don't know
AIT well, but this kind of differential output is no problem using
traditional single sourcing tools like FrameMaker/WebWorks or MIF2GO and
the higher-end solutions. Each character, actually, can produce
different output in different media.



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

WebWorks and RoboHelp Certified - RoboHelp MVP
Member, RoboHelp Advisory Board & JavaHelp 2.0 Expert Group
Moderator, HATT & wwp-users

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Re: Two questions for single-sourcing practitioners: From: Dick Margulis

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