RE: Single sourcing- what method/tool works best?

Subject: RE: Single sourcing- what method/tool works best?
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: kalpana thakar <k_thakar -at- yahoo -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2011 07:44:33 -0800

kalpana thakar wrote:

> In my work environment, there's a user guide ( output PDF) as well as an
> online help. 50% content from 6 chapters of the user guide is being re-used
> for generating online Help.
> Currently 2 different frame books are maintened for this purpsoe- i.e., one
> framebook for the user guide that contains 15 chapters and another frame
> book for the online help that just contains 50% information from the 6
> chapters in the user guide.
> We are looking at having a single set of source files for generating the
> PDF as well as the online help. Since framemaker is being used, would
> conditional text be a good option or can anyone suggest a better
> alternative.

Two different book files is a good idea, since the help book only needs 6 of the chapter files that the print book includes. But the same 6 chapter files should be included in both books (in FM, a chapter file can be part of any number of books).

Within the 6 chapter files that are shared between books, you can define two conditions, Help and Print, and apply them to content that's exclusively for one output medium or the other.

When you're ready to create a PDF, open the print book file, select all the chapters, and use View > Show/Hide Conditional Text to show Print and hide Help. When you're ready to create help, open the help book file, select all the chapters, and show Help and hide Print.

Remember to update/generate the book after showing/hiding conditional text (it probably doesn't matter for help, but it does for PDF, since showing and hiding text can affect pagination).

Depending on how you're creating the help output, you may not need to accommodate all the differences between print/PDF and help in the FM files. For instance, if you're using a HAT (help authoring tool) like WebWorks ePublisher, you can configure it to convert print-oriented cross references (like "see 'Heading Text' on page 47") into a form more appropriate for an online hyperlink. You can also tell it explicitly which conditions to include in the help output, so if you prefer, you can use a workflow where you don't have to do the show/hide dance for the help book, only the print book.


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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Single sourcing- what method/tool works best?: From: kalpana thakar

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