Re: Using Word and Frame together

Subject: Re: Using Word and Frame together
From: Chet Ensign <Chet_Ensign%LDS -at- NOTES -dot- WORLDCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 15:42:32 -0600

Karen Gwynn writes:

/Datatel <Karen_Gwynn -at- DATATEL -dot- COM>
Subject: Re: Using Word and Frame together

Caryn Rizell wrote:

>> What have others done regarding choosing tools for books vs
>> tools for online?

and Karen Gwynn replied:

>> if your issue is single source (you want to write the text once and
>> use it for both paper and online), I think the answer is SGML.
>> ... SGML is tool independent which means you can construct your
>> text us SGML and then use it for online help or paper doc

I have been involved in several projects where we used SGML as source for both
print and online help. I wrote up one case for the STC Intercom and I
understand that it will be published in March.

We took two different approaches. In one case, we used an explicitly defined
element called something like <HELP> (it has been awhile) to define text within
the document that should become part of the help system. A program was written
in AWK (although it could have been written in PERL or one of the SGML
processing programs like Omnimark or Balise) that copied out the help elements
from the doc set, converted SGML markup to RTF for the Windows product or the
OS/2 codes (IPF?? it's been a long time) for the OS/2 product, built all the
necessary project files, etc. etc. then compiled the help files down the WAN
backbone to the PC department's file server. It was pretty slick.

The other approach -- the one written up in Intercom -- was for a UNIX product.
There we were using the Docbook DTD (developed by O'Reilly). Docbook defines an
attribute called ROLE for all the elements in the document. We set ROLE=HELP
for any elements that were to be used in the Help system. The product was
delivered with EBT's DynaText product, so for the help system we just defined a
different style sheet. All it did was call the online manual with the help
style sheet. Again, pretty slick.

The downside to the SGML approach is the setup costs you incur in advance. It
takes time, thought and changes in your mental image of what your job is all
about to get it going. Over the long haul however, I believe that you save
money because you aren't trying to keep duplicate copies of the same info in
sync and because you aren't spending time and money reformatting the same
content that you already wrote for paper in order to get it to this or that
online environment. However, note that I say *believe.* I can't point to any
hard numbers one way or the other.

Best,

/chet

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


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