FW: Could be "Why Open Office kicks MS Word's butt"

Subject: FW: Could be "Why Open Office kicks MS Word's butt"
From: "Sarah Stegall" <siliconwriter -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006 10:11:00 -0800

Yes, I have tried this. I am the lone tech writer in a small startup, and
have the ability to decide our format by fiat.

When I came on board, all our documentation was in Word. I am blessed with
some developers who are excellent writers, who actually write documentation.
Far be it from me to mess with that. They use Word, even though most of
their development (and in fact, the company software product) is written for
Linux deployment. Most of our tools are open source. However, the software
developers are not terribly interested in learning a whole new writing tool,
so they stick to Word.

It was my task to pull the many and varied papers being written by
developers into one standard format, and to produce a comprehensive SDK
based on them. I originally did this using OpenOffice, and it was pretty
successful. The final product was a PDF, which is all anyone wanted. Why did
I choose OpenOffice? Partly as an experiment, partly to bring Tech Pubs into
the open source environment shared by the rest of the team, and partly
because I was hoping to use XML to do some single-sourcing.

Looks now like that (single sourcing) is not going to happen. Also, the
developers have now evolved a consensus that they'd like their stuff to
remain in the format they wrote it (MS Word) so they can continue to edit it
later. We're having discussions about version control, but it looks like I
am going to have to abandon OpenOffice for now. Too much inertia. I find it
odd that all these rabid open-source developers are so reluctant to use a
free open-source tool that works so well, but then I stopped expecting
consistent behavior out of human beings a long time ago.


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