Re: Aware of such a System

Subject: Re: Aware of such a System
From: "Sandy Harris" <sandyinchina -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2007 00:22:52 +0800

On 4/25/07, wawelsmok <wawelsmok -at- o2 -dot- pl> wrote:

> Is anyone aware of a system where say each section of a guide is stored
> separetly in a common text file that is updated by a designer and edited
> by us, then a document is generated by some program (maybe XML
> based) that collects all these text files and turns them into a formatted
> document? Better yet you can pick and choose what sections you want
> to import into the doc, customizing it for certain clients.

Given Unix utilities, it is not hard to build one of these yourself. I did
it once some years back to generate three different books from a
collection of Frame files.

The key is the 'make' utility. You edit a makefile and put in rules like:

my_book : a.xml b.xml c.xml
my_program a.xml b.xml c.xml

This says that my_book depends on the three XML files.If any
of those three has a newer timestamp than the book, then the
command in the next line is run to build the book.

This is recursive. If there are other rules saying that the XML
files depend on something else, then it checks that the XML
files are up to date, and rebuilds them if needed, before
applying the rule above.

You can also have rules like:

all: book_1 book_2 book -3

The does not execute any commands itself, but it
will cause all three books to be brought up to date.

Given any program that can be run from the command
line -- many XML tools, Framemaker's "frame batch"
utility, whatever -- you can drive it with a makefile.

There are several free versions of make around, so
you can use this even if you do not have Unix.

Also have a look at Amaya, the free editor/browser
from (the web standards body). I'm not
sure if it does XML, but it has a "make book"
feature that lets you combine HTML files.

No doubt there are a dozen other solutions as
well, some expensive.

Sandy Harris
Quanzhou, Fujian, China

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Aware of such a System: From: wawelsmok

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