Re: Single Source Docs

Subject: Re: Single Source Docs
From: "Michael A. Lewis" <lewism -at- BRANDLE -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 09:39:51 +1000

Damien Braniff wrote:
> I'm sure this has been covered before but I'm having problems searching the
> archives at the moment. Has anyone any comments on single sourcing hard
> copy docs and online help. Looking at this for a new product (hopefully
> save work) but I'm not convinced of how "good" it will be - we use Word and
> HDK. The main reason for my doubts is the style - online tends to be (?)
> stilted and "chunky" with no need to "flow". Hard copy, however, needs to
> be more readable. I've seen a few single source docs and the paper copy
> was very stilted, though all the information was there. Something like
> SGML would probably do where the relevant bits could be selected for use in
> the help but I don't know enough about it and the only authors I know who
> have used it did so because they had to!
> Perhaps Frame? However most of our lit is very modular and relatively
> small. Our largest product comes with lit in a binder in 13 sections with
> each section a separate document - largest is less than 80 pages, smallest
> 1! Not sure Frame would be justified, plus the standard arguments that
> everyone else uses Word etc.

I have clients who are essentially locked in to Word for their paper
docs, and I massage them for on-line retrieval. Two key points in my
experience are:

What kind of material? As you say, complext textual material doesn't
migrate very well, but stuff that is chunky by its very nature -- policy
and procedure manuals, for example -- can be entirely successful.

Why support both formats? One of my clients really uses the paper
version purely as a formality: they print on forms that include all
sorts of sign-off boxes, dates of issue, etc. The online version is
easier to retrieve, and simply needs to be kept up-to-date. (That is,
once a new version of an existing procedure is approved, it has to be
migrated to the online form immediately.) If you like, the online form
is for the users, and the paper form is for the owners.
Michael Lewis
Brandle Pty Limited, Sydney, Australia
: PO Box 1249 : Suite 8, The Watertower :
: Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012 : 1 Marian St, Redfern 2016 :
: Tel +61-2-9310-2224 : Fax +61-2-9310-5056 :

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