RE: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series

Subject: RE: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series
From: <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 18 May 2016 18:47:15 -0400

Thanks for the comment, Robert. Re single sourcing per se, you are quite
correct. One of the things that I do throughout the series is to point out
the structured writing is not unique to XML and is actually implemented in
virtually every tool out there for one purpose or another.

You are right too that many techniques that were pioneered in the 90 in XML
or SGML have since been encapsulated in off the shelf applications. That is
probably a point I should make in the introduction to the book.

Still, people do still build and/or modify structured writing systems. Often
the reason is that they want to implement several structured writing
algorithms, perhaps a combination that is not offered together in an
off-the-shelf application. By laying out each of the algorithms, I hope to
make it easier for people to figure out which combination of algorithms they
need for their business and whether they can buy or need to build or
customize.

One of the key themes of the book that that structured writing is about
applying constraints to content so that it can be processed by algorithms.
All off the shelf tools do this. They all have their constraints and they
all have their algorithms based on those constraints. Off the shelf tools
are absolutely part of the structured writing picture. What I am hoping to
do is to provide a language and framework for talking about what each tool
does and does not do in terms of constraints and algorithms so that the
buy/build decision can be addressed using consistent basis of comparison.

It is definitely a point I need to bring out more strongly.

Thank you,

Mark





-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+mbaker=analecta -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+mbaker=analecta -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
Of Robert Lauriston
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 2:36 PM
To: TECHWR-L Writing
Subject: Re: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series

It feels very dated, like it was written in the 90s, when structured writing
and single-sourcing were new concepts rather than standard practices
embodied in off-the-shelf tools that have been evolving for
20 years.

Thus the presentation seems backward to me. We're not starting from zero.
People single-source using off-the-shelf tools, in some cases enhanced with
custom code that has been in place for a while. Most of us write in a
WYSIWYG editor in Flare / FrameMaker/ Oxygen / Confluence / whatever, then
generate web help, PDF, static web site pages, etc. from templates. It's
interesting to know what's going on under the hood (and essential if you're
developing templates or custom code), but starting the piece with such a
low-level explanation exaggerates its importance over more crucial
considerations, such as total cost of ownership.

On Wed, May 18, 2016 at 10:56 AM, <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com> wrote:
> TechWhirl magazine has just published the latest in my series on
> structured writing (http://techwhirl.com/single-sourcing-algorithm/),
> which is scheduled to become a book from XML Press. A big reason for
> serializing the book on TechWhirl first is to get feedback that will
> help me improve the book. I'd be really grateful if anyone who is
> interested would be willing to read the latest article or any others
> in the series and give me some feedback, either on the site or to me
> personally (mbaker at analecta dot com).
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References:
Request for comments on my Structured Writing series: From: mbaker
Re: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series: From: Robert Lauriston

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