Subject: Re: SGML
From: Linda Moore <lmoore -at- ONRAMP -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 23:22:07 -0500

One additional note to Mark Levinson's comments. The Document Designer or
DTD writer is a separate position from any of the document creation
functions. This is necessary in order to maintain document control,
document integration and consistency.


>Mark Levinson (mark -at- sd -dot- co -dot- il) wrote:
>: Any feelings on SGML? Advantages, disadvantages?

>: ** Disadvantages: It takes away your control over how the
>: text looks and how the text fits on the page. It demands
>: that you consider content without considering form, the
>: message without the medium.

>No. It demands that you consider content _separately_ from form.
>Someone (the document designer) must make decisions up front about how
>the document is to be laid out and presented. Once these decisions
>are made, you are _guaranteed_ consistency. Such consistency means
>higher quality documents and less work for your editor.

>That's not to say that these decisions are cast in concrete --
>your document designer needs to be flexible enough to implement
>changes when they are necessary.

>: It can lead to unrealistic expectations of portability
>: (wow, we can use our brochure as the introduction to
>: our reference manual, our reference manual as our
>: training manual, our training manual as our online help...).

>Maybe. I guess you are saying that people start to expect that the
>same information can do triple duty without rewriting. That's not
>SGML's fault -- you can make the same bad assumptions with FrameMaker
>or Word. Remember cut and paste?

>: And my specific pet peeve: If the importance of your
>: headings is not really in strict top-down order, there's
>: no way you can let the reader know.

>: (That may bear explanation. Suppose, for example, that
>: I am explaining functions one by one and that for convenience
>: the functions are grouped by category. Maybe the category is a
>: second-level heading and the function name is a third-level heading
>: but I want the function name to jump out at the reader; that's
>: what the reader is more likely to be looking for. I can't
>: convey the idea that a third-level heading should be more
>: prominent than a second-level heading.)

>Sounds to me like your document analyst and/or designer did a lousy job.
>If you have a manual section that describes functions one by one,
>then whoever wrote your DTD should have taken that into account.
>And you should be talking to whoever decided not to emphasize the
>function name. These things are not cast in stone unless you have
>an inflexible document designer.

>: Advantages: It's sexy.

>Actually, it's really not. SGML as a "language" (many people will argue
>that it is not a language, and they have valid points) is pretty clunky.

>: __________________________________________________________________________
>: ||- Mark L. Levinson, mark -at- sd -dot- co -dot- il -- Box 5780, 46157 Herzlia, Israel -||
>: || You can't judge right by looking at the wrong. - Willie Dixon ||

>I think this .sig is particularly apt. It appears that you are looking
>at an SGML implementation that was not particularly well thought-out,
>and therefore are making judgements based on a bad example.
>I don't mean to be overly critical -- I just think that you are
>judging SGML strictly from the point of view of an author who is
>working in an inflexible environment.
>Glenda Jeffrey Email: jeffrey -at- hks -dot- com
>Hibbitt, Karlsson & Sorensen, Inc Phone: 401-727-4200
>1080 Main St. Fax: 401-727-4208
>Pawtucket, RI 02860

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