Re: Automating docs compilation in the software build process

Subject: Re: Automating docs compilation in the software build process
From: "Richard G. Combs" <richard -dot- combs -at- voyanttech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2003 12:54:38 -0600

David Handy wrote:

> My developer colleagues are keen to incorporate the docs source files into
> the Build Process -- y'know, the process whereby the development files are
> assembled into installable software. Currently I provide all docs in a
> finished state, i.e. I compile the master help file from several HTML Help
> projects, build the PDFs from Framemaker, apply relevant security
> and check the lot into VSS for inclusion in the build. The developers
> dislike this because the whole shooting match takes me a half-hour,
> with automated scripts it could be done in moments -- they contend -- on
> Build machine.

They want to produce your deliverables, e.g. PDFs and Help, from your Frame
files as part of the build process (when they create the shippable CDs)?
Without a human checking the output (PDFs and Help)? Well, with the right
tools, you could automate/script those processes, but I think it's a bad

You say that it takes you half an hour to do this manually (which implies
that you're not doing much output checking, such as link testing, yourself)
and that the developers dislike this. It sounds like you don't produce the
deliverables until someone calls you and says "We're ready to build now.
Where are the docs?" Why not? Maybe some simple workflow adjustments would
satisfy the critics.

Surely, releases aren't built with no warning on the spur of the moment.
Unless you're changing the docs up until the last possible second, it should
be possible to have the deliverables complete and checked in well before the
scheduled build. Of course, once in a while, you do have those last-minute
emergency changes to make, but that should be the exception, not SOP. :-}

My 0.02

Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Voyant Technologies, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT voyanttechDOTcom
rgcombs AT freeDASHmarketDOTnet


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