Re: Giving Up on XML

Subject: Re: Giving Up on XML
From: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 10:46:54 -0700

The answer to that question would depend on the software.

Back in the stone age, when I moved from a #2 pencil and
a typewriter to my first DOS-based PC word processor
(Wordstar 5), the answer was "forever" (most of us poor
engineers doing our own docs used the program as if it
was a typewriter because its other features were hopelessly
complex and clunky even when someone did the initial
configuration for you).

Then came word processors in Windows (WordPerfect
and MS Word). They came with predefined templates,
styles, automated TOC insert commands, etc., and if
you weren't determined to be "creative" and build your
own you could just use the canned templates. I recall
installing my first personal copy (i.e., on a PC on my
own desk that I didn't have to share with the rest of a
dept) of WfW on a Monday and turning in my first
document written on it that Friday. Since then I have
worked with numerous WP and DTP programs, at times
moving back and forth between several at the same time,
and have not found it especially difficult to import and
export docs between them. Only once has an outside
consultant been employed by any of the companies I've
worked with (one company paid an exorbitant sum to
have custom FM templates designed that IMO didn't
add diddly to what came out of the Adobe box).

In the past 5 years or so I have demo'd and "given up"
on about a dozen XML tools, and so far my experiences
have been decidedly "Wordstar-like" except for one,
which at the time would have cost about $100k to
implement (three guesses what the management
response to that was). The potential advantages are
easy to see, but the killer app has yet to come along.

Gene Kim-Eng

----- Original Message -----
From: <eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com>

Imagine for a moment that you had no publishing or editing software. How
much time will it take to select a product, set it up, and then design
your templates for it? How long will it take you to learn the TOC features
and scripting possibilities? How much will it take to get the workflow
right so that you produce consistent professional results?

Documentation done efficiently and right requires effort and a learning
curve. We're just comfortably familiar with Word, FrameMaker, or whatever
other tool(s) we use. Try to switch from one tool to another and get
similar results. Try and impose a new template on legacy documents. Both
are large projects that are no easier than getting a structured authoring
environment up and running.

Don't use "focusing on our job and avoiding consultants" as an excuse to
attack or put-down structured authoring. Many consultants specialize in
Word, FrameMaker, and a host of HTML and help programs all of which are


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RE: Giving Up on XML: From: eric . dunn

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