RE: Single-sourcing = myth? (v-LONG)

Subject: RE: Single-sourcing = myth? (v-LONG)
From: "whitedh" <whitedh -at- attbi -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 2002 09:51:59 -0400

My experience with single-sourcing remains rhetorical; no client for
whom I have worked in three U.S. metropolitan regions has used it. In
fact, no client for whom I have worked has been organized so that they
could attempt to build a single-sourced solution.

Therefore, I limit my comments to the concepts behind printed and online

People want printed documents. The most consistent complaint people have
about Microsoft applications, in my experience, is that that company no
longer issues printed manuals for their software. People like printed
documents because it is, for them, the most user-friendly format. If it
is properly organized, a person can study processes that relate directly
to how he or she can use software to accomplish a job: writing a
research paper, memo, letter, mass-mailing, and so forth. Topics are
focused on processes but are broad in scope in that chapters are devoted
to a particular process.

People want usable online help. The most consistent complaint about
online help that I hear is that it requires too much time and effort
from the user to use. They want online help to be as comprehensive and
concise as context-sensitive help; that is, they want information about
an idea or process, and they would very much like it if the online help
engine searched and delivered, in a concise form, all information
relevant to their input search query. Of course, most online help
authors say that they deliver exactly this, but the users point out that
there are too many additional links and that they jump (or flit) from
topic to sub topic to sub-sub topic and are soon lost in the mire and

Help-authoring software promotes the ability to build printed
documentation as well as online help files from a single source--the
material you enter. Yet, if you build content with the intent to deliver
a well-designed online help system (that is, one that people will use
and use happily), that content does not usually translate well to the
printed venue. The reverse is equally true.

I am not opposed to single-sourcing. I would like to see a
single-sourcing solution that can, however, take a single peg and easily
make it fit into a variety of odd-shaped peg holes.

Don White
whitedh -at- attbi -dot- com

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Re: Single-sourcing = myth? (v-LONG): From: Sean Brierley

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