Re: Author-it [was: Single Sourcing tools]

Subject: Re: Author-it [was: Single Sourcing tools]
From: Jan Cohen <najnehoc -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Char James-Tanny <charjtf -at- gmail -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2007 11:49:52 -0700 (PDT)

Hi, Char,

Thanks for sharing your expertise.

In regards to first question, I did a little research and came across a review of Author-It (, written by Mike Tulloch, a tech writer in Florida. Since I'm not sure when the article was written, I can't vouch for its applicability to the latest version of Author-It, but it does appear to be in-line with what you described. Given what he says and the implications to the ability to work across multiple releases, I'd probably have to agree with him, as I'd be concerned in a fast-paced
environment where work is started on the next release before the prior release is put to bed. That can happen if a document's lifecycle equates to, e.g., Channel Ready plus six months, where writing on the next release begins with Business Ready. As such, I'd have to preclude Author-It as the single-sourcing tool of choice where multiple releases of a document are being concurrently worked on. Otherwise, it might work well, depending on the needs and requirements of the writing group.

Anyway, I won't torture you any further (today)--time to move on to a cold one (it's quitting time or me). 8^)

jan cohen

----- Original Message ----
From: Char James-Tanny <charjtf -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Sent: Monday, September 17, 2007 9:33:08 AM
Subject: Re: Author-it [was: Single Sourcing tools]

Hi, Jan :-)

> a) whether a sufficient level of version control exists to be able to work
> in multiple versions of that source, regardless of the release in work.

It exists, but it is designed for versions that can be frozen
is, version 1 has been published, and now I need to change this
object, so it becomes version 2. However, once I activate version 2, I
can no longer make changes to version 1.)

There are ways around this, but they increase the amount of complexity.

> b) what about, e.g., branding or product-based differences in inline-text?
> For instance, the permissions you mention below could easily be used to
> address differences in higher-order elements like paragraphs, but it would
> be far more complicated to do so within the context of a single sentence.
> Text entities/variables would be more useful in such instances. Are they
> available for use?

Yes. AIT has three types of variables (text, list, and file object),
so it sounds like you would want to use list.

> c) conditional text? Is its use available? How difficult is it to use and
> keep
straight among a number of authors?

It is available, but it works differently from file-based tools. In
AIT, you can control conditions by style (by specifying which output
types the content can be published to). Then there are variables (the
list variables above come in handy) and embedded topics, where you
create new topics by pulling together other topic objects into a new
parent "shell".

> I'd ask these questions because one of the great aspects of using SGML or
> XML to publish documentation is the control one has over the final,
> published version of a document. Mind you, I'm not necessarily a proponent
> of one tool's use over another. Many of the XML-based authoring tools share
> similar functionalities, even if the ways they go about it might be
> different.

I agree. I jumped into this thread because I could answer the AIT questions :-)

James-Tanny ~ JTF Associates, Inc. ~


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