Re: XML-based Help Authoring tools for customized help

Subject: Re: XML-based Help Authoring tools for customized help
From: "Sean Wheller" <seanwhe -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003 20:52:49 +0200

From: <eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com>>
> Not to pick on Sean specifically, but the negative view expressed against
FM is
> a prime example of this plain stupidity and obvious baggage carried by the
> person presenting THEIR way of doing things and putting down another's.

On numerous occasions I have stated that Frame is a very powerful tool, but
that *I* don't see the point of using a DTP package for authoring in an XML
based publishing environment.
No body is trying to put down anyone. However, whenever a person suggests an
alternative that may hint at taking any functional task away from a tool
like frame or word, its users raise the flag and blow the battle cry. They
stand firm, ready to defend the application as though their jobs depended on
it. The conventional tools of the trade are not redundant, just because of
XML applications such as Docbook, TEI or DITA. However, it may be worth
considering that some people will actually change their workflow and process
due to the introducution of XML in the publishing system. I personally feel
that deploying a heavy package such as frame across the enterprise is not
productive and not cost-effective. I propose that the Docbook application
and lighter for XML specific applications be used and that tools such as
Frame enhance or round-off the technology compliment.

I have experienced an increase in
production and reduced costs from using Frame at the end of the authoring,
when publishing for print becomes the issue. CMS based on technologies such
as Cocoon dynamically transform content for online presentation in HTML and
PDF without human intervention. Yes there is some setup and the stylesheets
do need adjustment from time-to-time, but then what application doesn't. The
result in workflow has increased contribution and collaboration from SME's.
Formatting is consistant across the system as editors do not have the
ability to change it. Hours of time is saved when it comes to reusing
information. There are significant benefits to be had. It is true that they
may not be realizable in all environments, but in some they are.

> The Epic salesman tried the same crap here.

Amazing how colorful language comes to front to run down another persons

> FM is for print only, EDDs are
> complicated, EPIC is TRUE(tm) XML. Rubbish. FM needs EDDs, EPIC needs
> screen and print. Different approaches and workflows that can produce
> results.

There are many who will have agreed with the Epic salesman. I don't think
that makes them wrong.
No body was disputing that different approaches and workflows can produce an
identical result. Only that there is, in their view, an alternative which is
possibly more attractive. But amazingly some people took it as an attack on

> Structure view, and being able to work with or without the tags showing
> is a huge time saver and convenience. Anybody who enjoys having to type in
> opening and closing tags is insane and needs their head examined IMO.

For some it is perfectly natural. I find that a presentation layer actually
inhibits my productivity. Simple operations become a concatenated list of
mouse clicks that could have been accomplished with two or three keyboard
operations. Formatting is something defined once in an XSL and called upon
when needed.

> If people spent half the amount of time talking about actual requirements
> how to make a workflow WORK instead of quibbling over the meaning of true
> the masses would realise how pathetically simple most of the concepts are.
> many of the high priests and priestesses of the XML world (ie consultants)
> a vested interest in confusing definitions and blowing smoke to either
> receiving high payments or to continue with the ego of being Alpha-Geek.

Do you refer to everyone who is not in your camp with such derogatory terms?

There are many ways to skin a cat. Mark and others have had some very valid
points from which I have drawn knowledge and even reshaped some of my own
perceptions. While Mark and I may disagree on certain points and just how
pedantic one should be in email or may have mis-communications or
understandings of each others perspectives. This does not mean that we have
to use negative or derogatory language in reference to the other school. If
I have something to say to Mark, I will respectfully say it off-list and
keep the discussion on-list in context. Outbursts of this type, just break
the thread. I do however think thank you for the statement "Not to pick on
Sean specifically".

Warm regards,

Sean Wheller



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Re: XML-based Help Authoring tools for customized help: From: eric . dunn

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