Organizing Boilerplate Text

Subject: Organizing Boilerplate Text
From: clarkk1 -at- ah -dot- org
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2005 10:53:53 -0700


I am looking for help developing a boilerplate "bank."

One of my responsibilities is to edit and publish regulatory and upgrade
system release docs. We average about six of these upgrades each year.
Vendor documentation comes with each release, but we have their permission
to edit out what we don't need and add our own customizations.

At this point, I'm keeping reminder notes in a manila folder. I'm forever
opening previous release doc files to copy/paste chunks of text. It's a
tedious procedure, and not at all dependable. (Any system that relies on
my memory can't be that good.) These release docs are usually very large,
and we are forever identifying more and more chunks of boilerplate-type
text. As the technical communication specialist, I am responsible for
managing these routine edits.

Here are some thoughts on what I would like to accomplish with this bank:

FORMATTING. All the release docs are based on the same template and use
the same styles. I'd like to copy/paste text that doesn't require
re-formatting. I think I need to develop the bank using the same
application that I use to develop the release docs - which happens to be
FrameMaker.

LOGICAL ORGANIZATION. I need a way to locate entries quickly and
efficiently. In otherwords, I should be able to locate the "Print Files"
text without searching through hundreds of entries. Something similar to a
TOC or even an Index, perhaps? I don't know... this is difficult. In some
cases, I need to catalog simple routine phrases rather than entire
sentences, pharagraphs, or topics. Phrases are not easily categorized.
Here's another example: I am instructed to make sure all references to
IF#FILE are changed to IS#FILE. Organizing those types of instructions is
challenging.

MANAGING DESTINATIONS. As an example: I must make sure the instructions
for handling Print Files immediately follows the instructions for handling
Obsolete Objects in every release doc. This would be easy if Obsolete
Objects always fell under the same numbered heading, but it doesn't. In
one release doc, Obsolete Objects might be heading 5.5 and in another it
might be 5.8. My boilerplate bank would have to help me know where to
place the text each time, if necessary.

VARIABLES. As you can imagine, much of the boilerplate text must
accommodate variables, such as the Release Number.

A CHECKLIST. Some way for me to "check off" boilderplate text as it is
placed in each release doc.

Thanks for any direction you can give me.

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