Re: Writing for On-line

Subject: Re: Writing for On-line
From: Matthew Bin <mattbin -at- HOTMAIL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 09:31:36 PST

From Mark Baker:

( 8< )

>Separating structure from content is no great trick, once you learn it.
>Databases have been doing it for years. Your ATM slip, your monthly
>statement, and your bank's annual report all draw data from the same
>database. Different structure is applied to each information product as
>it is drawn from the database.
>The bank does not store bank statements, it generates them as needed.
>should not be storing web pages, help files, and documents. We should
>be creating them as needed. From a database.
>Within that database we should not store different content for
>media, simply the best content possible to express the idea that must
>expressed. When we draw that content from the database to create an
>information product, we should apply a structure appropriate to the
>media and the needs of the particular user.
>This is true single sourcing, with true media independence, and it
>lets us exploit the full potential of every media we use, rather than
>ourselves to the lowest common denominator of media capabilities.

Hear, hear! I agree one hundred percent, and I have often thought that
information ought to be presented in an interface which draws on a
relational database in a structured way.

Incidentally, there are programs out there that do this. I am
evaluating one right now, and I must say it makes an intelligent effort
at true single-sourcing capability.

The authoring tools with such capabilities seem to take an
object-oriented approach to documentation. Has anyone on this list used
an object-oriented authoring tool? I am personally interested in
replies, and would be glad to summarize for the list.

Matthew Bin
Technical Writer
NeoDyne Consulting, Ltd.
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

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