Re: Single Source: Yay, Nay, or TBD?

Subject: Re: Single Source: Yay, Nay, or TBD?
From: Lee Hunter <lee -dot- hunter -at- hum -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2004 20:26:56 -0400

Anne Allaire Burke wrote:

I am wondering what people think of single sourcing.
I am on the fence about it -- leaning heavily towards not yet convinced that
it "works" for all documentation types. For example, I don't like the idea
of converting my hardcopy user guide into an identical online version. I
feel that online documentation (Help, etc.) is used and learned differently
(from the user perspective) than it's hardcopy counterparts.

Single sourcing doesn't mean having identical outputs. It just means that you've decided to share chunks of content wherever it makes sense given the context of your business (e.g. available technologies, localization, legacy text, writer training, printing costs etc.)

You can do lots of things differently for your different outputs - different graphics, topics, tips, tutorials, whatever - and still be a card-carrying, fully accredited single-sorcerer. You're just trying to avoid, as much as practical, instances where you have the cost of maintaining two chunks of content that say pretty much the same thing and that don't have any particular reason for not being identical (single sourced). In fact, even if they have a reason for being a bit different you can probably still have the chunk come from a single source, just by conditionally tagging the bits that are different.


Lee Hunter - Technical Editor & Information Architect

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