Re: Developers and electronic mark-up

Subject: Re: Developers and electronic mark-up
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 22 Mar 1997 18:24:42 PST

Review comments are "dirty" -- they haven't gone through the fact-checking,
the copy-editing, and the integration into the structure of the document
that your own work has.

This being the case, the last thing you want reviewers to do is to
change your actual draft. If they want to do electronic markup, fine
-- but it should be with electronic post-it notes; data that lives
outside the document itself.

Interleaf's WorldView does this, as do some other packages that I'm
only vaguely aware of. Assigning a color to each reviewer and removing
the post-its only when the issue is fully resolved and integrated into
the document is a useful management technique. Receiving multiple
changed documents (or worse, a "gang edit" that has anonymous revisions
typed in by various people, some of whom are guessing about areas about
which they know nothing) is a nightmare from a document-management
standpoint, and encourages the reviewers to play wasteful games such
as rearranging the chapters.

Such a methodology is also useful for technical specs, where formal updates
are sometimes slow, but a warning by an engineer on an electronic post-it
can save a great deal of trouble.

In general, the cost of publishing software becomes an irrelevant side
issue when all costs are tabulated. Labor costs are generally the
dominant cost in both engineering and publications. You can talk to
someone in finance and get a ballpark figure for the cost of an hour
of time in engineering or publications (you want burdened cost, which
includes overhead). A $2595 FrameMaker license has a cost equivalent
to some amount of time. If you save time in excess of the cost, then
the purchase is a no-brainer.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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