Re: Content Management (long)

Subject: Re: Content Management (long)
From: Doc <dlettvin -at- attbi -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 03 Jul 2002 08:16:41 -0400


On Tue, 02 Jul 2002 19:20:31 +0000, "Mubeena I Mutabanna"
<mubeena -at- hotmail -dot- com> wrote:

A key concept in your note is "intern", another is "two months". <Note
the use of logical punctuation.>
These tell me that you probably don't have a budget, and you
definitely don't have much time, so let's get to work.

I am assuming that you're not dealing with full Content Management
with multiple users simultaneously creating, editing, managing,
retrieving and publishing a variety of content within a set of rules,
processes and work flows.

I think the best you can hope for is basic document retrieval and
version control.

The simplest and cheapest tool for finding and retrieving is also a
basic discipline. Develop a consistent folder and file name strategy
and stick to it. You will be amazed at how much control it provides.
Even if you add a full document control system later. This discipline
will provide a much easier transition. The important thing is to be
consistent.

The reason I suggest that this be the first step, is that without this
discipline you become totally dependent on the management or
versioning software. I can tell you from experience that when (not if)
the software fails, it can fail badly.

We had to share Visual Source Safe with the programmers. They were
responsible for maintaining it, but none of them read the manual, so
the periodic purging and compacting was never done. When it failed it
corrupted their files and two years worth of ours. We were glad that
we had clean, clear duplicates archived manually. Very glad.

My group tracked thousands of files this way. We wrote our
documentation in 1-2 paragraph modules with each module stored as a
separate file, so it was critical for us to keep control. At any one
time we might be developing 3 or 4 products with 1000 or more modules
each.

The folder structure looked like this (best viewed in fixed pitch
font):
__InfoDev (root folder)
|__Productname
|__Version#
|__Frame (holds text files)
| |__Graphics (holds graphic files
|__Release (PS,PDF files)
|__Reference (materials received for info)

Because we were working with modules we needed the complex structure.

For Word and Visio documents You can simplify it.
__InfoDev
|__ProductnameVersion# (holds doc files)
|__Graphics (holds graphic files)
|__Release (holds PS, PDFs, etc.
|__Reference (holds received materials)

Any type of information that you want individual access to should be
sorted into an appropriate folder. If the tables must be kept separate
then create a folder for them.

The ProductNameVersion# folder should use a format similar to this:
MSW_MAN_230_A
This says that it is a MS Word manual for version 2.30 Alpha release.

We had five release points.
Alpha -internal review
Beta - internal and external review
Gamma (or Gold) - internal final review
Ship - published

Each time you release, make a zip of the current ProductnameVersion#
directory and store it safely (preferably off-disk). Then rename the
folder to indicate the next release point.

So you will expect to have an archive that looks like this:
MSW_MAN_230_A.zip
MSW_MAN_230_B.zip
MSW_MAN_230_G.zip
MSW_MAN_230_S.zip
MSW_MAN_240_A.zip
MSW_MAN_240_B.zip

when your current working folder is:
MSW_MAN_240_G

Variations can be:
MSW_TRG_230_A - Training Guide

MSW_RLN_230_A - Release Notes

MSW_WBT_230_A - Web-Based Training

Naming standards for document files depend on the level of granularity
you use. If you store the entire document as a single file, then it
can use the same name as the ProductnameVersion# folder. If you do
this, change the name of the file each time you archive.

For multiple file documents especially if you use a Master Document
strategy, give the files a meaningful name. For example:
C1_Introduction.doc
C2_GettingStarted.doc
C1 = Chapter 1

Use the same strategy with your graphics and table files. I recommend
something like:
C1G_001_ProductPhoto.gif
C1G_002_OverviewFlowChart.WMF
C1T_001_PartsList.wks
C2G_001_WizardSplash.bmp
C2G_002_WizardRegistration.bmp
and so on.

If you work this way, you'll find that it is much easier to track and
it will be much easier to set up a database or spreadsheet to do it.

Instead of trying to build an application from scratch, I suggest you
visit the MS Office web site and download some of their templates. You
should be able to tweak one of them to do what you need. There are at
least two MS Access inventory templates that should be close to what
you need.

There are also some free version control programs available. I won't
rank them, but here are a few to look at:
http://www.randem.com/
http://www.perforce.com/
There is some shareware also:
http://www.relisoft.com/
http://www.studioplus.com.ua/VerCtrlMaster/VersionControlMaster.phtml
http://www.qumasoft.com/

Good luck
-Doc
David W Lettvin
VersaText
South Hamilton, MA
978-468-1105
"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." - G.K. Chesterton


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