Single Sourcing - Reusing Chunks

Subject: Single Sourcing - Reusing Chunks
From: Tom Johnson <johnsont -at- STARCUTTER -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 08:40:55 -0400

Eric Ray brought up a different concept of single sourcing. I would like to
piggy-back on his request with my own. Many months ago I brought this up
and never really got a solution. I have made some progress and maybe I can
explain what I need more clearly now that I've been working on the project
longer.

I am looking for a product or a process that will help me manage thousands
of brief descriptions. To describe this mess, the words "dictionaries" and
"catalogues" come to mind. I need to be able to assemble different versions
of dictionaries based on the subset of terms used in a particular program.
To visualize this, think of a dictionary where you would have a word or a
term followed by a definition. How can I quickly compile my dictionaries
when I'm given a list of terms? Of course, sometimes two different terms
may use the same definition or the same term may have more than one
definition (kind of like the English language).

Is there some way of giving an ID number to a topic defintion and using
that topic number as a cross reference to the actual definition? There must
be a better way than using "Find File" and searching for key words to find
a term that has been used before.

A database of some kind would probably work. I've done some testing with
Access and the output is less than desirable. However with some
post-processing with VB I was able to get close to what I wanted. Is there
a product out there that will help me assemble these dictionaries
efficiently?

Some of you have done database publishing in FrameMaker. Is that something
that I should be looking at? I'm quite familiar with Frame, but I'm not
quite sure if I'm up to the task of writing some kind of interface between
a database and Frame.

It all sounds confusing, I know. Believe me, it is an overwhelming task.
I'll be grateful when I have a system that works. This is a monster that
has been growing for years and I am the one who gets to tame it. To give
you a perspective, we have dozens of these dictionaries (maybe a hundred or
more) with the total number of terms used adding up into the tens of
thousands. Most of these are used over and over which makes it necessary to
get it into a database of some kind so we can begin to re-work the
definitions that need improvement. Right now it is impossible to tell where
each term is used and which definition of the term is the most recent (or
the best). Can you imagine a term appearing in 20 or 30 places with perhaps
6 or 7 different inconsistant definitions.

Tom Johnson
Elk Rapids, Michigan - On the freshwater coast

johnsont -at- starcutter -dot- com work
thomasj -at- freeway -dot- net personal


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