Re: Moving away from MS Word?

Subject: Re: Moving away from MS Word?
From: Troy Klukewich <tklukewich -at- sbcglobal -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2007 08:20:00 -0700 (PDT)

Hi Candis:

Maybe you can send me some context offline as I wasn't at the Writers UA conference last week. There are plenty of tools that use XML as the content source, so I'm not sure what producing real XML means in this context.

The trick is that XML is a completely open, extensible, user-definable meta language. Departments either specify their own vocabularies (the semantics of their content) custom-made or pick up something pre-made from DITA or DocBook and adapt it.

Strictly speaking, like HTML, you don't even need a tool to produce XML at all, but can code a text file by hand based upon a specification (like DITA) with a validator to check correctness. Of course, WYSIWYG (sort of for XML) and other convenience features of an XML editor are expected in professional shops.

When I worked for Borland Software, we initially coded our XML specification by hand so that we were not tied to a particular vendor's version of XML. We then tried and swapped out different tools until we were (more or less) happy. None are perfect, but then I have found traditional tools imperfect, too.

Epic editor seems to be the editor of choice for enterprises, though XMetal and XML Spy are popular choices, too. We tried XMetal, moved to Epic, and continued using XML Spy as a development tool. I'm sure there are many other viable editor choices including open source options.

We used Antenna House for automatically generating the PDFs using XSL:FO. It was the only formatter available that we tried that wouldn't blow up from memory leaks when processing tens of thousands of topics. We reaped huge cost savings from automating the PDF production with XML and XSL:FO, especially considering localization impacts of the previous, manually intensive process.

Whether individual writers are embracing XML or not is a good question. It seems to me that in most cases, at least in larger companies, the decision is either departmental or company-wide based on cost and globalization preassures. In my experience, some writers embrace it and other don't. Some will always prefer desktop publishing over semantic-based design.

DTP versus XML: they're very different beasts.


----- Original Message ----
From: "Condo, Candis" <ccondo -at- c-cor -dot- com>
To: Troy Klukewich <tklukewich -at- sbcglobal -dot- net>; SB <sylvia -dot- braunstein -at- gmail -dot- com>; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Sent: Monday, April 2, 2007 9:46:12 AM
Subject: RE: Moving away from MS Word?

As was stated at the Writers UA conference last week, we have been
promised a move to XML for 7 years now. Until we get a real tool that
produces real XML, tech writers are not likely to embrace XML.

Candis L. Condo

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+ccondo=c-cor -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+ccondo=c-cor -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
Of Troy Klukewich
Sent: Monday, April 02, 2007 8:49 AM
To: SB; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Moving away from MS Word?


And then I understand that XML is now the growing trend. How does it
relate to documentation?

I have found XML to be the best solution for:

1. Scale
2. Automation
3. Localization
4. Flexibility


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