Cheicken and eggs scenario for structred writing

Subject: Cheicken and eggs scenario for structred writing
From: David Harrison <dharrison -at- moldmasters -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2013 08:36:11 +0000

Many of you have already gone where some of us are just looking to start. But we are looking to a new Documentation group (of two) and a new methodology to unify a couple of Tech Writers either side of the big pond.
We have broad higher-level agreement (and a promised budget) that we need to move into something like xml and CMS to cope with
* similar user manuals,
* same user manuals with subtle variants
* similar manuals with different delivery (print and online help)
* different styles
* 12 or more languages

My question - is there anything worth doing while waiting for next year's budget allowance to buy new tools etc.
We did think about creating the corporate style guide - common chapter structure, common language, common visual style, common writing rules, common terminology and glossary.

But although it seems fairly logical, I do wonder how much we should learn about xml, structured writing, DITA - and even Arbortext (which is 99% certain to be the production tool) before we put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).
Is a prepared but possibly uninformed structure going to save us lots of work when we get the new tools? Or is it likely to fall over like a pack or cards and need a complete work-over (only to lose much of the good intent that was garnered together in the early period)?

Or is there some half-way house that we may not have considered that would pay handsome dividends - something that we can roll-out now while using MS Word and Adobe In-design as our existing tools?


David Harrison | Controllers
Mold-Masters (UK) Limited | Global Hot Runner Technology |
Netherwood Road | Rotherwas ind. Est. | Hereford | HR2 6JU | United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1432 265 768 | Fax: +44 (0) 1432 263 782
mailto:dharrison -at- moldmasters -dot- com |
Registered in England No. 191861
Sent on 24.07.2013 10:36 by David Harrison

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