RE: Why WYSIWYG for XML???

Subject: RE: Why WYSIWYG for XML???
From: kccole -at- fuse -dot- net
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 09:41:36 -0600

Hi Bill,

> Being somewhat of an old Geezer, I started my technical writing with
> TROFF, IBM Script, and eventually really nifty tools such as Scribe,
> TeX, and finally Wordstar (remember the famous "dot commands?").

Me too. Wrote my first manuals in gml on an IBM ROSCOE terminal. Worked
for years on various NCR and AT&T Unix machines using nroff, troff, and vi
as the editor. (Still use the MKS vi daily on Windows XP.)

The WYSIWYG debate has the potential to be inherently silly. I **hate**
WYSIWYG systems because I have never acquired the skill to line things up
correctly with the mouse etc. I very much enjoy being able to precisely
specify format (with the infamous angle brackets) when I need to, and
being able to ignore the format when I can.

However I am primarily a systems programmer and write manuals for a night
gig. I tend to want to specify everything in code. It is equally
possible to be aware of the semantic structure of a document using, for
example, MS Word.

I once wrote a Word application that took the document as a text stream
and marked up the output text with angle brackets based on style changes.
Of course the writers had agreed upon a convention of having associated
particular styles with blocks of equivalent semantic importance. They had
to be religious about using the styles or the system would break.

I think whatever tools they grow up learning to use will have to have
enough facility to permit them to embed indirect semantic indications
(styles instead of tags for instance). As technical writers they have to
be in command of semantic structure or else they're just not good
technical writers.

Best regards.



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