RE: single sourcing in Intercom

Subject: RE: single sourcing in Intercom
From: Sean Hower <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2003 11:44:20 -0700 (PDT)

All very good points. And of course, I'm not saying always use XML. Of course, if there is already a tool out there for what you need, there's no need to go through the trouble of working with XML. Heck, I've recommended not using XML for something we had planned on using it for because the benefits just weren't there. But as soon as you start talking about a lot of customization, you might want to start thinking about XML.

For example, how do you go about documenting 100 separate programs/subprograms that can be set up in any combo, with a variety of access rights. Now, documenting something like this in Word would be a pain (I've done it. It is.) With XML, the online help automatically generates itself based on whatever the user has install. It's the same help file, its output is different, and generated on the fly. If the user purchases another program, you don't have to update the user's help. The help will know the user has new program and include the help for the program automatically in the output.

I guess my point is that in some cases XML is a good choice. There are some very practical benefits depending on the kinds of applications your company is producing. Just as it is rediculous to suggest that XML is the solution for everything, it is equally rediculous to dismiss it in every instance (I'm not saying Eric is doing that, but I do think it's an important point to make).

Eric asked why not use a database instead of XML. Well, XML _is_ a database....or at least you can use it for that. XML is all about storing, manipulating and managing data. And granted, it's applications are more ..... applicable in some situations than other.

One benefit of XML is that it's platform independent. You don't need ANY tool to create it. Any text editor will do. Granted, you have to know a few technologies, but the basics of those techs aren't that hard to pick up. The're no more complicated than learning the quarks of any existing tool, or dealing with technical problems and troubleshooting for those tools.

"And in the morning, I'm makin waffles." ~ Donkey
Sean Hower - tech writer

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