SGML & The Technical Writer

Subject: SGML & The Technical Writer
From: Steve Owens <uso01 -at- EAGLE -dot- UNIDATA -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 1994 17:35:06 +0700

> On Sun, 10 Apr 1994, Gerry Bourguignon wrote:
> > to be limited to one specific function. If writers don't have to concern
>> themselves with document design or layout, then their jobs become reduced
> > almost to a clerical function. He said that would be the day when he

> Gerry asks a good question. This was debated in some detail in the first
> MIT Press collection--Text, Context, and Hypertext--in a pair of articles
> by John Brockmann and Geoffrey James (1988). Brockmann uses an earlier
> article of mine (Seeing the Text, College Composition and Communication,
> Oct. 1986) to argue that the process of designing a text--laying it out,
> making formatting decisions, figuring the best way to display it--is part
> of the writing process and feeds back into the thinking of the writer. It
> is not like we write a text and then decide how to lay it out. Laying it

Actually, some of us do. I'll often sit down, pull up EMACS (an extremely
powerful, if cryptic, UNIX text editor) and write the raw material, the
first draft, so to speak, before pulling it into FrameMaker to do WYSIWYG
formatting, touching up, and the final draft.

Sometimes I even take the raw text to second draft, then edit in MML tags
(Maker Markup Language) to apply paragraph formats, before I pull it into

I find (and I suspect others do as well) that editing in EMACS allows
me to concentrate more on the content (and to some degree the
organization) and ignore questions of formatting, layout, design, etc,
until I'm ready to work on them. This process also gives me the
powerful capabilities of EMACS at this stage.

[EMACS also has some functions that are handier for doing
organizational work (like an outliner function that "hides" the text
under a specific heading, or under all headings, or under all
subheadings of a specific heading, or under all headings of a
certain level, etc)]

Steven J. Owens
uso01 -at- unidata -dot- com

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