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- From: James Robertson <email@example.com>
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: Sun, 06 Dec 1998 12:57:53 +1000
At 01:19 5/12/1998 , you wrote:
| I'm helping a company get a stalled intranet done and one of the major
| things they are looking to do is make their policies and procedures manual
| available as an online reference. I am thinking that it makes sense to mark
| it up as XML: it is 1000 pages and contains lots of chapters and
| subheadings. Anyway, the question is, have people gone this route yet, of
| marking up some text in XML and then streaming it to the client
| HTML? I'm planning to use one of the XML Java parsers and just fetch the
| text and then have some way of reading styles from a CSS file and applying
| them as I stream it out.
I will try hard to restrain myself when discussing this: I've been working
on a solution in exactly this area for the last year, and there are a lot
of issues to cover.
I am also in the process of helping to design an intranet solution for
a major client, so I am keenly aware of the issues surrounding such
First off, I would strongly encourage you to think of this as a communication
problem, not a technical problem. That is: what is the best way to communicate
vital information to the readers of the manual?
The biggest example of this: paper form information is normally not suitable
for presentation on-line, as it is designed for linear reading, not hypertext
jumping about. Also, I think you will find that creating effective methods
of navigation will be just as important as the content itself.
Therefore, a few questions for you:
* How will you author and maintain the content?
* What format is the current document, and how do you plan
to get it into XML?
* Are you planning to do usability testing on the online
layout and structure?
* Will you still need to produce a paper copy?
* If so, will you have to maintain one copy of the information,
In summary, it is very easy to focus on the technical aspects
of such a project, and create an online form that no-one can,
or wants to, use.
This is particularly important in the environment you have
briefly described: they have already had one pass at a successful
intranet and failed. Simply adding a lot of extra pages of "stuff"
will not necessarily improve the situation ...
That being said, I've created a solution for a client that involved
a custom-written authoring environment for a manual consisting
of 7000+ pages (insurance underwriting material).
This then gets exported to SGML, and published into WinHelp, RTF,
Works like a charm, but not a trivial exercise by any means.
Hope this helps,
Step Two Designs Pty Ltd
SGML, XML & HTML Consultancy
"Beyond the Idea"
ACN 081 019 623
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