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Subject:Re: On-line help and manuals From:mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM Date:Mon, 13 Feb 1995 12:00:13 EST
Susan Gallagher writes:
>Single-sourcing paper and online docs is a pipe dream. One or
>the other is bound to turn out badly. Mainly because the type
>of information that you present and the way in which you present
>it should differ greatly from one medium to the other. You reader's
>expectations differ greatly from one medium tot he other.
A year ago I would have agreed with you. But I've spent the last year
developing a user's guide and reference that I single-source for hardcopy,
online, and online help. I customise the information for each medium
using conditional processing. It's a pain, but it keeps the information in
synch (which is _very_ important for this product, since we're constantly
releasing Beta versions). Given a choice between single-sourcing with
heavy conditional processing, or multi-sourcing with no conditional processing,
I still choose the single-sourcing (though reluctantly). With a 500pg manual,
I simply cannot afford to maintain the information in three places. It's
easier to maintain the information in one place, and then customise a process
that makes it look decent in all media (in this case, two forms of hardcopy,
two forms of online reference, and one form of online help).
So, it's not a pipe-dream. It's not without its price, but the price can be
worth it for some projects (not necessarily all).
mpriestley -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
Disclaimer: speaking on my own behalf, not IBM's.