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RE: Open Source XML Editor
- From: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- To: Marcus Carr <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001 08:24:11 -0600
True. But remember that when you make the DTD/Schema
drive the editor, you may be mixing the data structures
and the document structures (sure you can use XSLT to
get around some of this). Some like this kind of
editing, but the structures make a lot of difference.
DTDs that had to cover a family of documents produce
bizarre complex editing paths. So the analysis is
very important both in the lifecycle path of the
information and the workflow of the production staff.
Problems like this lead to a lot of the early thinking
about enterprise wide markup systems.
Michael's examples reflect programming
documentation. Of the types of technical information
I've worked with, it is the easiest. The
harder bits tended to be the hardware systems with
the extensively indexed and cross-referenced drawings
combined with repair and assembly. Software and the
the software authors are a piece of cake by comparison.
What Alshuler missed as I recall was that many tech
writers were stuck like tractors in a muddy bog by
the writing standards they had been using. It was
part of the problem of the 38784/28001 roadblocks
put up to doing interactive technical manuals. They
did not want to code the tags to begin with, then
when they began, they immediately replicated all
of the problems for which they were the owners
of the solutions. So even if the markup was easy,
the mindset was wrong.
Today, the almost shocking thing is that
so many of them won't give up WinHelp or WinHelp tools.
A LOT of software companies are still grinding out
hypertext that is mundane and production-intensive because
the tech writer leads and their managers refuse to use
database-driven systems. So customers request paper
copies for various good reasons and these companies
refuse to give them source that would enable this
and claim that everyone knows that digital is the
only way to go. They defend that ferociously
as a cost savings for the customer all the while
really defending their own arcane methods. Fact
is, it's a con. A decent hypertext format with
transforms lets any device get the information
as needed in the format needed and that includes
the old devices... like paper.
Own the solution? Defend the problem.
Intergraph Public Safety
Ekam sat.h, Vipraah bahudhaa vadanti.
Daamyata. Datta. Dayadhvam.h
From: Marcus Carr [mailto:email@example.com]
Michael Smith wrote:
> Even with the best editing app in the world, I think document authors
> find structured authoring simple only when the content they need to
> mark up is simple -- that is, it has a simple structure and lacks a
> variety of discrete classes of "objects" that need to be marked up.
> Marking up technical documentation, for example, is inherently
> difficult because it has a relatively complex structure and variety of
> discrete kinds of objects -- variables, filenames, code examples, and
> so on -- that authors must recognize and mark up appropriately.
I agree, and would even go further. Liora Alshuler wrote a great article
ten years ago about how writers aren't necessarily at all intimidated by
markup. After all, they have a lot of understanding about what they're doing
they probably wouldn't be writing about the topic if they didn't. The moral
was to spend time on the analysis, and design a succinct and appropriate
structure in concert with the writing team. Then even "complex" documents
not be difficult to author to. A good "guided syntax editor" is an
tool for a system like this.