Re: Structured HTML (was: Is it possible to single-source online in HTML?)

Subject: Re: Structured HTML (was: Is it possible to single-source online in HTML?)
From: David Locke <dlocke -at- BINDVIEW -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 14:35:52 -0500

The debate about this tool or that tool is largely missing the point. If we
are single sourcing to save costs, then we shouldn't single source. You
won't save any money single sourcing unless you ignore the differences
between how print documents get used, how online documents get used, and the
fact that those differences make the content of those documents inherently
unsimilar and un-single sourceable.

Another issue with single sourcing is that of only providing a single
explaination. I remember trying to learn what Interleaf called effectivity.
Effectivity was really just one application of using variables to drive
format and content functions. But, every manual including their training
manaul explained it the same way. With the same words. If you didn't
understand it the first time, you were not rewarded for looking elsewhere.
It was exactly the same. Different documents in the same documentation set
that cover the same application should provide a different treatment. This
leaves us with documents that are again unsimilar and un-single sourceable.

For a given product, an increase in the volume of documentation increased
the negative use cost to companies whose users use that documentation. If
that volume is largely redundant in treatment, different in form, and
context insensitive, the vendor might squeeze out a few dollars, but the
customers will discontinue the use of that product because the total cost of
ownership will be too high and productivity improvements non-existant.

Single-sourcing is not a value-add. It's profit center focused, but the
profit only accrues to the center not the company. Bad idea.

David W. Locke


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