RE: Of myth and reality

Subject: RE: Of myth and reality
From: "Sean Brierley" <sbri -at- haestad -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2002 14:38:20 -0400

Steve's criticism seems off-base to me.

-----Original Message-----
From: SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com [mailto:SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com]

> Sean Brierly's passionate defense of single-sourcing was itself based
on an assumption that
> I think is questionable.

As stated, my problem with the article is that is uses, as its premise,
the debunking of single sourcing. Instead of writing about how to
differentiate between printed documentation and online help, regardless
of how you get there, the article requires you to buy the fact that
single-sourcing doesn't work as a focal point for creating online help.

I submit that an article that only discussed how to differentiate
between printed documentation and online help could have been applied to
_both_ single sourcing and traditional methods of documentation.

I don't find that debunking single sourcing was necessary to set up a
discussion on the differences between online help and printed
documentation, do you?

> 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
> separate text blocks for printing and online display isn't singular,

Huh? I never made a claim that that was single sourcing. Why do you say
that I did? Why did you even bring that up?

> 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!

Huh? Why must single-sourced documents all have the same content and/or
all have the same graphics and/or all have the same layout and/or all
have the same fonts and/or all have the same use of color, etc.? If I
want my single-sourced online help _not_ to have graphics and my
single-sourced printed document _to_ have graphics then, guess what? The
online help does not have graphics and the printed doc does.

> In my last group, we talked about (but didn't implement) converting

I have to ask, what group was that?

> FrameMaker files into online help by grabbing blocks marked with
> tags; for example, everything formatted with "Headline," "Summary,"

Yadda yadda. Are you reversing yourself and now supporting Sean

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

How can you question my discussion if you don't know?

Here's the deal:

1) If you can do it with traditional stand-alone online help, you can do
it with single sourcing.

2) If you can do it with traditional stand-alone printed documentation,
you can do it with single sourcing.

3) Just as traditional stand-alone documents fail, fail to meet their
audience's needs, fail to be accurate, and fail in their formatting,
etc., so too can single sourcing fail, for many of the same reasons.

4)Just as traditional stand-alone documents succeed, so too can single
sourcing succeed, for many of the same reasons.

5) Single sourcing is not always appropriate. But, when it is, it saves
you time, money, staff, and resources over traditional multi-sourcing
and helps you improve the quality of your documentation. And,
formatting, look, feel, and pop-ups are not sacrificed.



Sean Brierley
Software Documentation Specialist
Haestad Methods
203-805-0572 (voice)
203-597-1488 (fax)

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