RE: Of myth and reality

Subject: RE: Of myth and reality
From: SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2002 12:33:22 EDT

I'd like to defend the Intercom article, with which I agreed. Sean Brierly's
passionate defense of single-sourcing was itself based on an assumption that
I think is questionable.

When the Apple Macintosh supported two CPU chip architectures, the older
68000 and the newer G3, applications were often created in "fat" versions
that would run on either by dint of containing code for both. A "fat"
application was a single file, but to implement a change that would appear on
both platforms, the developer had to make the change twice, in two different
places and two different ways.

Would you call that single sourcing? I wouldn't, and I don't think Apple ever
pretended that it was. Similarly, a "single-source" document that contains
separate text blocks for printing and online display isn't singular, either.

Clearly, the situation Lisa Wright <liwright -at- earthlink -dot- net> describes is an
uncomfortable one. If you're writing the same block of text twice, you have a
problem. But if nothing else, the graphical demands (or at least styles) of
printed and online documentation seem irreconcilable: you can't have too many
graphics in a document, and you pretty much can't have graphics online (or so
you all say 8^) The printed version is apparently the "fat" one!

In my last group, we talked about (but didn't implement) converting
FrameMaker files into online help by grabbing blocks marked with specific
tags; for example, everything formatted with "Headline," "Summary," and
"ProcedureStep" tags could be pulled out to make a usable Help file. You'd be
missing content in the online version (mainly illustrations), and you'd have
to do something with cross-references as well; but that way, at least, you'd
only have to write the procedures once to use them both ways, and the
double-entry bookkeeping Lisa bemoans would be avoided.

Can you have a "single-source" document where the print and online versions
are proper subsets with significant overlap?

-- Steve

Steven Jong--"Typo? What tpyo?"
mailto:SteveFJong -at- AOL -dot- com -dot- nospam
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