Re: Writing structured content

Subject: Re: Writing structured content
From: "Pro TechWriter" <pro -dot- techwriter -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "Gordon McLean" <Gordon -dot- McLean -at- grahamtechnology -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2007 12:09:00 -0400

Hi Gordon:

We use Information Mapping where I work for our documentation, which is
created in Word and then converted to HTML for use on the Web.

It is, without a doubt, pretty clunky.

I would not recommend this method for single-sourcing, because, although it
is useful for hard copy docs, it's old methodology (um, 1980s!) and is not,
in my opinion, well-suited to online use (although they say it is).

The Informapped documents do not convert very well to HTML, and the template
uses embedded Visual Basic. Also, because many "blocks" (labled
paragraphs) in different documents share the same title (based on the
template and the training they give you), reusability would be a problem in
online documentation where you may want to save snippets of text or
paragraphs to reuse in several different areas. Having 25 "Background"
blocks from 25 documents that contained different information would not work
for reuse without some serious renaming, if you see what I mean.

Now, structured writing in the "true" methodology sense has an allowed
vocabulary that is adhered to, plus other rules. There are pros and cons to
this method as well, and plenty of Web sites to look at. I've looked at
this, but had some concerns about the limited vocabulary being appropriate
for my industry. It may work for yours though.

There is a current methodolgy, DITA, or the Darwin Information Typing
Architecture, that is coming into use in many large and small companies
right now. If I had a choice, this would be it for me, as it is designed for
reuse, multiple authors, and single-sourcing. It fits with several of the
new online tools (AuthorIT and Madcap Flare).

Here are some links:

The committee that developed it:

The DITA Open Toolkie and Guide

One vendor for DITA tools (I believe Oracle is implementing this)

I'm sorry that those are not specifically training-related, but I am sure
that information is available from one of them.

HTH, and Good Luck!

> PT
> pro -dot- techwriter -at- gmail -dot- com
> I'm a Technical Technical Writer!

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Writing structured content: From: Gordon McLean
Re: Writing structured content: From: Barry Campbell
RE: Writing structured content: From: Pinkham, Jim

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