SUMMARY: Not allowed to change templates?

Subject: SUMMARY: Not allowed to change templates?
From: Ballenberger Gerd <Gerd -dot- Ballenberger -at- MED -dot- SIEMENS -dot- DE>
Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 10:52:02 +0200

Last week I had written:

> Our (big) department has a standard set of FrameMaker templates, and we
> "NOT" allowed to change them. Now we're writing a department style guide,
> and found e.g. that there is no paragraph tag for a literature list, and
> xref format for referencing the list items, like [1]. Of course we created
> these formats (plus some others), and now we have to defend our decision.
> How did others handle the need for special-purpose formats in a rigid
> environment?

Now here's what happened:

I got 21 replies, which overwhelmed me - and all was good advice; a big
thank-you to all who replied!

The repliers unanimously stated that templates are bound to change. A
minority suggested to do the changes and ask for forgiveness later; the
majority recommended to insist on the installation of a defined change
process and get the changes sanctioned by a review board.

In fact we did have a change request form, but I had more or less forgotten
it, and it was little used, and there was no defined process.

Anyway, with the moral backing from the list I had a good feeling of having
done my homework. The meeting went well, and we agreed to suggest to our
boss to install a review board and implement a defined change process.

So far, so good... except that (A) I was tasked to take care of this, and
(B) I learned that as we are going to introduce SGML, template changes have
(already now!) begun to be a big problem: while simple layout changes will
still be relatively easy to implement, other changes that will affect the
_structure_ of a document may result in a one-week (read: expensive)
software change to modify the EDD, DTD, and output converters. (Brave new

That's why we decided not to create a literature list paragraph tag and
literature xref: we'll format the list using our standard numbered list tag,
and in the few cases where we need to reference a list item we'll copy the
literature item as a footnote "into" the body text, thus avoiding a special
xref. (There's always an alternative... and that's probably what a review
board is also good for: finding solutions together with the users.)

Should anybody be willing to share some tips & tricks (and cautions) on
installing a review board and implementing a defined template change process
- this would be great!

So thanks again & regards,
Gerd Ballenberger

Technical Writer
Siemens Medical Systems
Erlangen, Germany
gerd -dot- ballenberger -at- med -dot- siemens -dot- de

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