Re: XML conversion

Subject: Re: XML conversion
From: Rowena Hart <rowena_hart -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 13:03:16 -0700 (PDT)

Mark Baker wrote in part: "The only reason to apply an
automated process to your documents is so that
you can solve some business problem: reduce costs,
meet new requirements, enhance revenue opportunities,
improve accuracy, etc."

Too true. The business "problem" driving our move to
XML is the development of a new software product. The
interface for this product changes depending on the
roles and job duties assigned to each user. We don't
know which combination of roles or job duties people
will have, we just know which roles and job duties can
use a specific screen as part of a known workflow. To
make things even more fun, the product is sold in
modules. Rebranding and translation are also likely in
the near future.

The new product design and sales model provide some
interesting challenges. The most interesting
challenge, from a technical documentation perspective,
is that the users' interaction with the product varies
dramatically based on their roles and job duties. It
is unacceptable to ship a document that describes
screens and functions that the user cannot see or use.
With XML and an automated transformation process we
can generate customized documentation on the fly based
on the roles and job duties of the user at the time
that they request help.

With XML it is also easier to modularize documents. We
pull chunks of documentation from one database and
assemble them into proposals, white papers, release
notes, installation guides, user guides, reference
guides, and training guides. This "author once, use
numerous times" approach saves us a great deal of time
and effort, and will help us reap real financial
rewards when we rebrand or translate our documents.

I'm with Mark in recommending a thorough analysis of
why you want to move to XML. We spent close to three
months (not full time) putting together a business and
technical proposal for moving to XML. After that,
implementing XML was a breeze.

I hope this helps. Cheers,


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