RE: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7

Subject: RE: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 8 May 2012 16:20:34 -0400



> -----Original Message-----
> From: Gene Kim-Eng

> I may just be lucky, but I've encountered very few engineers or
> developers
> who thought they could use Word or any other document authoring tool as
> well as a technical writer AND liked to do it. I've definitely never
> met
> one any actually WANTED to do the technical writer's job on top of
> their
> own. But I've met enough of them who could do it if they had to that I
> know better than to complain about my tools when I talk to them.
>
> And as far as the "SPACESPACE instead of styles" method of document
> formatting goes, I'd rather have engineers and developers use that
> method
> in the content they generate for me than attempt to apply styles. In
> fact,
> I'd be happy if everyone who ever wanted to send me anythint to insert
> into
> a document just sent me a plain text file.

Bingo.

Somebody buy that man a drink.

I've got engineers (ok, software developers and architects) who
[think they] manage just fine with Word, and others who are
just fine writing text in their favorite text editor. I have
still others who like to present ideas with pictures, so they
use PowerPoint... and hey, it's already open anyway, so stuff
some text into those slides, too.

I even got a 40-page submission one time that was done
entirely in Visio. Several flow-charts and a number of
visual things that could as easily have been from PowerPoint,
(simple block diagrams) but a whole WHACK of unconnected
text boxes, too.

I don't care. I used to work in FrameMaker, so anything I
received was best treated by running through a vanilla text
editor and a suitable graphic program (for the non-text stuff)
in order to get it into my docs. I always needed to edit and
re-write extensively, so it was great that they'd provide
technical detail and even some overview. I simply didn't
consider any of their tool-specific stuff or their formatting
as part of my input. That stuff was bark to be stripped off
the pulp-wood trees that were the words and diagrams.

In many cases, I used provided diagrams and illustrations
as just inspiration for ones that I created myself.

There wasn't a generic drawing editor that was the graphic
equivalent of Notepad, so I used my head as the filter - in
through the eyes, and out through Illustrator or other
extension of my brain.

Basically, I didn't see a need to change that when I found
myself using Word for eventual-PDF docs.

Treat any SME material as the raw-est possible source, and
avoid trouble.

I might try some of those tools a couple of you have
mentioned, to replace "[Ctrl][A] (or drag-select) in source doc >
[Ctrl][C] > [Ctrl][V] in Notepad > select text> [Ctrl][C] >
go to Word (or Flare) > click insertion point > [Ctrl][V]"

SOME SMEs might be proficient in Word AND willing to hew
to a template, but my experience is that "Trust but verify"
turns out to be about as time-consuming as (and more fraught
than) simply assuming the source is somehow dangerous and
filtering it through plain text by default.

And since I'll have to filter and pre-process for some, why
not just let all of them produce in a way that makes them
happy, and then go through my process out of view.
It's better, in a motivational sense, that we're going more
and more toward Flare... much as it used to be when we/I
used FrameMaker and nobody else had it.

When they think you are using some sort of special-sauce
tool, nobody is offended that you strip out what you need
from their offerings and leave the husks behind. :-)


-k



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Follow-Ups:

References:
Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: William Sherman
Re: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: William Sherman
RE: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: Coe, David E
RE: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: Ben Davies
Re: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: Phil Snow Leopard
Re: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: William Sherman
Re: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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