RE: Current trends in Authoring Tools?

Subject: RE: Current trends in Authoring Tools?
From: "Dan Dube" <ddube -at- doczone -dot- com>
To: "Geoff Hart" <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, "Janice Gelb" <janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 10:54:30 -0500

I was reading through this thread and finding it very interesting that a
long discussion on authoring tool trends had not once mentioned XML,
until this note from Geoff. (Thanks, Geoff.)

As a former technical writer and long-time proponent of standards-based
applications, I actually am quite glad to see the trend move back
towards a standards-based approach like XML that separates the content
from the format. There are so many advantages, but here are my top 4

- Writers can focus on putting all of their efforts into the CONTENT,
without worrying about why tools like Word aren't formatting the page as
expected, or how to tweak the HTML or help output files.

- Tool-specific "workarounds" and tool obsolescence no longer become
issues. In the 1980s, I was an Interleaf user. Proprietary, closed
architecture (sound familiar?) Migration to new tools upon the demise of
Interleaf was a painful experience. What if (theoretically) Adobe
decided to abandon FrameMaker? Many tech writers would face the similar
hurdle of do you replicate all of those cross-reference
links, for example? In XML, the tool becomes secondary to the content
structure. You can use any tool that supports native XML authoring and
expect essentially similar behavior.

- XML facilitates single-source publishing to multiple output formats

- XML greatly reduces the overhead, expense, and turnaround time to
localize content into multiple languages

Just my (admittedly biased) opinion...


Dan Dube
Managing Director, US Operations

Phone: +1 603 488 5008
Mobile: +1 603 785 3052
Fax: +1 603 488 5009
DocZone: A KMWorld Trend-Setting Product of 2006

-----Original Message-----
From: Geoff Hart [mailto:ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca]
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 4:22 PM
To: TECHWR-L; Janice Gelb
Subject: Current trends in Authoring Tools?

Janice Gelb notes: <<I find it ironic that when I first got into the
biz, writers used coding to indicate to the typesetter where to change
fonts and so on. Then the WYSIWYG tools came out and everyone said
"Look, we can control the appearance ourselves and see our changes right
away! Coding is clunky and old-fashioned!" Then 15 years later, everyone
acted like it was a revolutionary trend: "Look!
We can use coding and have non-proprietary document exchange!">>

Sadly, though not quite as ancient as Janice <gdrlh>, I'm well on my own
way to decrepitude: I can still remember manually tagging text in
AtariWriter, and later in IBM's Bookmaster. <g> I also loved the ability
to view codes in WordPerfect and manually fix up any formatting bugs,
and remember how appalled I was when I learned how bizarrely Word
encoded its text formats in .doc files.

I'm very much looking forward to open standards such as XML, though it's
appalling that Microsoft has once again tried to coopt the standards
process by introducing its own proprietary format when a perfectly good
standard already existed. Will we be able to manually edit the tags in
.docx? I hope so, but wouldn't bet on it.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
Coming soon: _Effective onscreen editing_ (


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include single source authoring, team authoring,
Web-based technology, and PDF output.

Now shipping: Help &amp; Manual 4 with RoboHelp(r) import! New editor,
full Unicode support. Create help files, web-based help and PDF in up
to 106 languages with Help &amp; Manual:

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- infoinfocus -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


Current trends in Authoring Tools?: From: Geoff Hart

Previous by Author: Re: Technical Communication degree by distance?
Next by Author: Detritus?
Previous by Thread: Re: Current trends in Authoring Tools?
Next by Thread: Re: Current trends in Authoring Tools?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads