Re: Interleaf's Effectivity Feature

Subject: Re: Interleaf's Effectivity Feature
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 10:17:56 -0700

> Can any of you comment on your experience working with Interleaf's
> effectivity feature?
> We will be having a lot of hands in the soup, so to speak, so I need for
> our strategy to be nearly foolproof. Is effectivity too fussy for
> multiple users at with varying DTP skills to use without corrupting the
> master document beyond repair?

No DTP program is worth using if ill-trained users are allowed to romp
through the documents. In an environment where people can pop in and
alter any document, you're far better off to cut your throat right away.

In my opinion, each file should have exactly one person who is allowed
make changes to it at any given time, and the document should be handed
off to new owners rarely and with caution.

Editors should beat the document into shape interactively -- with the
document's owner in the same room, and preferably making all the
alterations to his document himself. That's how you get all the users
trained up to the same standards.

That said, Interleaf's effectivity function is perfectly adequate to
the task, but the documentation that Interleaf provides for this feature
is contemptible. In any event, this sort of thing has to be set up
carefully. You'll throw away your first attempt.

My favorite trick with effectivity is to have multiple links to the
same book. Each link has a different set of attributes. One might
be called "Technical Overview," another might be called "Data Book,"
and a third might be called "Design Spec." The actual container
will have all the files used by these three titles. The overlap between
them is often very great, you see -- a Technical Overview makes a
perfectly good Chapter 1 of a data book, for instance, while the AC
specs of the part will be the same in the design spec and the data book,
as will the register definitions, pinouts, and so on.

In any event, because the effectivity attributes can be set on both
and the actual container the links point to, what you see depends on how
you get there. If you open up the overview container, the document
appears to be the overview. If you open up the specs container, the
document appears to be the design spec.

This, backed up by a liberal use of catalogs to enforce component
properties, makes effectivity fairly straightforward. But the writers
can't lose track of the fact that the individual titles are all subsets
of the full documentation set.

-- 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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