SGML - Who? and Why?

Subject: SGML - Who? and Why?
From: Alexander Von_obert <avobert -at- TWH -dot- MSN -dot- SUB -dot- ORG>
Date: Sun, 2 Jul 1995 22:15:00 LCL

Hallo Marsha,

* Antwort auf eine Nachricht von Marsha Wolicki an All am 27.06.95

MW> From: Marsha Wolicki <cmawta -at- taux01 -dot- nsc -dot- com>

MW> My company is considering producing all documents in SGML.

a brave step, considering the state of the art...

MW> 1. Which companies produce their documents in SGML?

e.g. those in the defense and automobile industry.

MW> 2. How did the people who had to do the work learn how to do
MW> it?

That's the wrong question: You need someone, who configures all of your SGML
installation. Then that company has finished (and billed several $ 100.000),
the author's work is quite easy. The greatest problem is the fact, that you
have absolutely no control over the final page layout.

OK, you might be able to control the first print out of your manual. But SGML
is about converting and re-use of documents. And after the first conversion,
ALL final layout is TOTALLY automatic. This is one of the areas the SGML
company mentioned above has to earn it's money.

MW> 3. How long did the transition take?

Sorry, I know only about companies, that are in transition :-)
e.g. Daimer-Benz here in Germany.

MW> 4. What training is available on the subject?

Buy it from the company mentioned above.

MW> 5. Do you personally recommend the SGML approach to
MW> documentation?

a qualified yes for special markets.

MW> Why?

- You might be forced to use SGML. See the CALS initative of the US DOD.
See J2008 for the automobile industry (in the near future, all service
documentation for cars in the US must be delivered to strict standards,
including SGML.

- You produce documentation, that will be used and updated for very long
periods of time. Remember those dedicated text systems from the 70's?
You might find someone, who extracts ASCII from those 8" disks :-)

MW> Thank you, in advance, to all who take the time to answer my
MW> questions.

My pleasure.

Greetings from Germany,

PS: This is supposed to be the first message gated through my Internet
gateway. TechWriter's Home has been a BBS for technical communicators
here in Germany since 1988. But Internet connectivity is quite new here.

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