RE: Draft then Tag, or Tag while Drafting?

Subject: RE: Draft then Tag, or Tag while Drafting?
From: MList -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 15:45:50 -0400


Dick Margulis [mailto:margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net]
>
> Different strokes for different folks, Jim.
>
> I usually start with the structure and, if I am working with
> a blank screen, am as likely to write empty tags and go back
> later to fill in the content as you may be to write content
> and go back later to add tags.
>
> So long as we both end up with functional documents, it
> shouldn't matter, right?
>
>
>
> "Jim Bennett" <jim -at- jim-bennett -dot- com>
>
> >
> >I am new to drafting structured documents. Do those of you who draft
> >structured documents prefer to draft the document
> unstructured and then
> >go back and tag it, or do you prefer to insert the tags as you go?

Writing in FrameMaker, properly set up for a structured document, you
don't have a choice. It enforces the structure. It won't let you insert
a heading or level out-of-order. You *could* just write everything
as body text, after the first heading, though that would get a bit
tedious when you did numbered and nested lists...

It's easier to spend a morning getting accustomed to going with the
flow of what the EDD/DTD enforces, and then you just forget that it's
there and go on with your writing, secure in the knowledge that it'll
all be properly tagged, valid, etc., without needing much thought about
tagging. The idea is that, with a proper EDD/DTD setup, that sort of
thinking has already been done and automated for you. You just write
within the structure. It's generally effortless, unless something is
wrong. Assuming that the structure was properly developed before you
started the content, then the structure enforcement helps you to
write the document properly.

If the structure is not working for you at some point, you find out
right away that you need to re-think how you are writing the current
passage, and how it should fit into the overall development of the
document. I find that kind of intrinsic feedback to be invaluable.

If you truly need to write freeform or risk impenetrable writer's block,
then write in a plain text editor and copy/paste sections of it into a
tagged structure later on. Even so, you'll probably need to break it
up into separate text files, roughly equivalent to your eventual
chapters and sections... so why not do it from the get-go, and inside
the production program? With Word, your mileage would likely vary.

But if I'll eventually be using FM to finish a document, then even
without a structured interface, I still find myself needing to
assign hierarchy or I get lost/go nuts. If nothing else, the oversized
text of headings provides landmarks and eye relief in an otherwise
daunting flow of text.

/kevin


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