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On Tuesday 18 February 2003 11:40 am, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
> So, to repurpose, reuse, reapply?
> But none of these make it much easier to work with
> the document content as you point out. What will
> make users happier is easier reuse? However, if this
> is at the cost of making it harder to publish the
> original document (say, the RFP), that robs Peter
> to pay Paul. So the publisher isn't happy.
Right. That's the hard part. From what I have seen, it is very unlikely that
we will ever reach a situation where everyone is happy.
> The original document should be a data source in its
> original format. Now XML is helping.
Yes, the problem is the fidelity. There is a spectrum of content and the way
people approach content, from the extremely visual, through to the highly
structured (and possibly abstract). People who approach documents visually,
will have a very hard time authoring using styles... they'll want to fiddle
with fonts instead (how many documents have you seen where every style was
Normal?). In those cases, the original document, while it *should* be the
data source, most likely cannot be in any productive sense.
I once dealt with a bank that produced a book of credit reports (a *huge*
book). There were all kinds of uses the data could be put to, from setting
interest rates, approving loans, etc. onward *if* the data could be reused.
The problem was that in some cases, the credit reports were GIF images, in
other cases, Excel spreadsheets, and the rest were in everything between
them. The obvious solution was to standardize the data entry side so that
data could be accurately captured in XML, or somesuch, but that was precisely
the thing that could *not* be done. Prototypes based around forms, word etc.
all failed, because the people entering data were underpaid and
undermotivated to enter data appropriately. This is an extreme case, but I
think there are many situations where siilar problems will raise their head.
While I applaud XML on the desktop, I'm not seeing a silver bullet...
This is just on the data entry side too... the rest of the process of
establishing side-by-side views, or formatting, or extracting summaries, or
building indexes, or <whatever/> still needs to be done.