Re: sgml

Subject: Re: sgml
From: Chet Ensign <Chet_Ensign%LDS -at- NOTES -dot- WORLDCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 11:08:51 LCL

>I'm curious: why would anyone choose to author in SGML? My group did some
>investigation and it seemed like an extremely complicated way to get the
>job done. With tools like HTML and Bristol Technology's HyperHelp, why
>would anyone need to mess with DTDs and SGML?
>If you feel there are some extremely compelling reasons to choose SGML,
>please let me know. I would appreciate any feedback to help us make our
>decision about which tools to use to develop online help.

Actually, there are extremely compelling reasons if you take the time to look
at your entire information lifecycle, from inception through to delivery. There
are significant hidden costs that most companies fail to recognize because
their accounting systems can only show the gross costs of operating various
departments, not the precise costs of the various activities that make up the
end-to-end process by which information gets created and used.

The quote alludes to one. HTML, HyperHelp, etc. are fine for delivering
information. Problem is, most companies pay quite a lot to create a document
for the first deliverable -- generally paper -- then pay quite a lot again to
create the next deliverable -- say Winhelp RTF which gives you help on Windows
and UNIX via HyperHelp -- then pay again... and again... and again...

Another is the cost of reworking content for each group w/i the company that
needs it. At the SGML '95 conference, one of the speakers from Intel pointed
out that they discovered one of their databooks cost them $500,000 to produce
and some 60% of that turned out to be the time various people on the foodchain
spent trying to find information, rekey information from one system to the
next, etc.

The point is this: one of the things an SGML system does is get you to look at
the entire information foodchain. In the process, you discover significant
opportunities to automate labor-intensive (but non-creative) processes and
deliver better, higher quality information for a lower overall cost.


Chet Ensign
Logical Design Solutions
571 Central Avenue
Murray Hill, NJ 07974 censign -at- lds -dot- com [email]
908-771-9221, Ext. 152 [Phone] 908-771-0430 [FAX]

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