Re: Re[2]: DTP and Writing (and related)

Subject: Re: Re[2]: DTP and Writing (and related)
From: Peter Gold <pgold -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 21 Apr 1996 09:48:37 -0700

TW-L'ers:

Please don't discount my comments because I disclose I'm a FrameMaker
trainer for an independent Adobe/Frame reseller:

The historically strong distinction between content and visual form in
publications has been disappearing for some time, and the rate of this
change is increasing dramatically. Having the tools that can do
this helps, of course.

One of the famous quotes from the birth of Macintosh, "...it's not that
text and graphics are easier to combine, now. It's that text *IS* graphics!"
may say it best.

Indiana Jones used his father's diary in "The Last Crusade", a handmade
masterpiece of *integrated* text and graphics, to lead him to the Holy
Grail. Not your usual end-user manual, eh?

"To DTP or Not DTP" is *not* the question. Todays writing tools, used
properly, can create or import both the text content, graphic content,
and visual presentation of the content with little extra effort on the
author's part beyond simply typing text, *IF* a proper supporting
template (or template set) exists, and the author is trained to take
advantage of its features.

The distinction, IMO, is between those who design, modify, and maintain
templates ("designers"), and those who create their content in the
templates ("authors.") With today's tools, budgets, and department
staffing structures, it's common that these two job descriptions often
reside in the same person, perhaps with some proportional division
explicitly set out in a job description: "25% template responsibilities,
75% writing responsibilities."

With a proper document plan, style guide, template design, and template
usage instructions, tagging paragraphs with defined names that control
over 100 attributes and over !100 (factorial) possible combinations with a
simple keystroke combination or mouse click doesn't add much to a writer's
load. Whether the writer creates illustrations or communicates with an
illustrator who executes them, inserting them into the evolving document
is also a matter of a few strokes or clicks. Then, the template and its
defined features can do their jobs such as managing how paragraphs,
graphic containers, and tables, align left, center, or right; break across
pages; keep with next or previous; rise or fall to top or bottom of
column; cross-references link to their sources properly, and so on.

IOW, the author can see a very close approximation of the finished
document. When it's necessary to add, move, or delete material, it's easy
to see that all the ducks regroup in the proper formation without having
to wait for other participants in the cycle to process their portions and
return a paper or electronic version for proofing.

I see it as an issue of who's responsible for what. The change in the
industry has moved the most of the responsibilities to the originating
author. Whether the reasons are reducing headcount, increasing
intelligence and skills of the authors (or expectations of this), smarter
software, shorter time-to-market of the product and therefore of the
documentation, is irrelevant. I'm not saying that the old or new way is
better, I'm saying that this is the way things are. I think my .signature
sums it up:

__________________peter gold pgold -at- netcom -dot- com__________________
"We shape our tools; thereafter, our tools shape us.
We ape our tools; thereafter, our tools ape us."
________...Marshall McLuhan, based on Ted Carpenter's idea_____



On Sun, 21 Apr 1996, Joyce Flaherty quoted:

> on 04-19-96 Victor Chapel, victor -at- TRCINC -dot- COM wrote:
> <snip>
> > the best TWs I know can use _every_ tool they need to take a
> > document from nothing to deliverable. <snip>

> and Nora Merhar, merhar -at- switch -dot- rockwell -dot- com wrote:
> <snip>
> > Why would I want to write my document and then have someone
> > else DTP it? It would take me twice as long to explain
> > exactly what I want done as it does to do it myself. <snip>
> ==================================


... and she added:

> The best writer I know composes functional specs and the like
> at 60 wpm--awesome to watch!

> Another writer I know uses PFS (I think) and brain dumps at
> about 50 wpm after any interview. He doesn't spell check,
> format, or do graphics. He depends on a graphics illustrator
> and an editor to prepare final copy.
[snipped the rest, including references to awesome salaries...]

> joyce flaherty
> flahertj -at- smtpgw -dot- liebert -dot- com

__________________peter gold pgold -at- netcom -dot- com__________________
"We shape our tools; thereafter, our tools shape us.
We ape our tools; thereafter, our tools ape us."
________...Marshall McLuhan, based on Ted Carpenter's idea_____

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