RE: Of myth and reality

Subject: RE: Of myth and reality
From: "David Knopf" <david -at- knopf -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2002 08:32:40 -0700

SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com wrote:

| >> What would a 1-page MIF file demonstrate?
| It would demonstrate how easy (or difficult) it is to
| write within the single-source discipline.

Not really. No more than a single Help topic would show how easy it is
to write in a multi-source environment. The picture is bigger than that.

| >> Why does [writing two different text blocks] not count if
| >> you do this a single source environment?
| Because then you're losing the advantage of single-sourcing.

No, you're not. This is the central misunderstanding to which we seem to
keep coming back. I and others have tried our best to convince you that
this viewpoint is not correct, that your understanding of how single
sourcing is actually practiced and what its benefits are is off-base. I
don't think we've succeeded, and I'm beginning to think we won't. So I
will just say, for the benefit of others on the list who may still be
following this overly long thread, that 100% of the organizations I am
familiar with that use the single source approach do in fact write a
limited number of output-specific text blocks and do nonetheless derive
the advantages of single sourcing.

| >> Why would you try to [thread together pedagogical material,
| >> and reference material into a single block]? Pedagogical,
| and
| >> reference material often go in separate documents, never mind about
| >> separate text blocks. I don't see a connection to single sourcing
| Because I'm trying to save effort; isn't that the idea?

I do not think you will ever succeed in saving effort by attempting to
combine pedagogical, procedural, and reference material in a single text
block. If you believe that the combination of such disparate content
within a single paragraph is a goal of single sourcing, again I think
you have a basic misunderstanding.

| The
| Digital effort began with the merger of the training and
| writing groups. Both sides agreed there was tremendous
| overlap of information; what they never agreed on was a
| unified presentation. Even if the sides had agreed, the
| approach to tag definition would have doomed their best efforts.

Ah, Digital, one of my first employers. Why didn't you say so? Now I can
just imagine this project in all its, well, Digital-ness. ;-) I imagine
it was destined to fail from its inception; the belief that pedagogical
content from an instructional group and technical content from a
documentation group can be easily combined is, in most environments,
unrealistic. That is not a failure of the single sourcing methodology or
of any particular set of tools. If you sit down with a fork and knife
and attempt to eat a bowl of cement, well, it won't go very well; but
that doesn't mean eating is a bad idea.


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

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Re: Of myth and reality: From: SteveFJong

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