RE: XML/DocBook for newbies

Subject: RE: XML/DocBook for newbies
From: "Lisa Hickling" <Lisa -dot- Hickling -at- realsuitesoftware -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 2005 15:05:17 -0400

I take Joe's point on the matter.

With RoboX and yMaker products being EOL'ed left, right and center. I'm
personally very uncomfortable with where the more popular
help/documentation tools seem to be headed. While comparable competing
products may be a waiting in the wings, we cannot say with certainty
that these won't take a samilar direction in the future. In this
environment, I'm willing to take my chances with or at least consider
home grown solutions that have an open source format (aka XML) as their
base. This approach invarably means more leg work (aka software
development skills) on the part of the tech writer.

My pet concern however is that DocBook, which I consider to be a
top-down schema, continues to be the favoured choice for XML
documentation ahead of DITA which is a bottom-up, more info-aware
schema. DITA, imho, truly allows you to focus on content typing and
creation in one mindset. All, without the burden of having to tag
chapters and sections right into the XML document.'t
that what transforms are for!?!

A second raison d'etre for development-sharp writers is summed up in
*embedded online help*. You're better off having dev skills when you
expect Joe Coder to integrate help directly into the software's

Lisa H.

"The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words."
George Eliot

-----Original Message-----
From: Joe Malin
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2005 1:16 PM

The future of technical documentation will belong to technical writers
with software development skills. *Not* because you need to know "the
technology", but because computers are so useful for organizing
information. In the days of the typewriter, a tech writer who could type
60 words/minute no mistakes had a decided advantage. In today's world, a
tech writer who knows Python and XML has a decided advantage.

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