OASIS Mailing List ArchivesView the OASIS mailing list archive below
or browse/search using MarkMail.


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help



   RE: [xml-dev] Re: Are the publishing users happy? Why not?

[ Lists Home | Date Index | Thread Index ]

Sounds familiar (filling the role of the DTD developer, hopefully not too
smart-mouthed) :-)

A major part of the job is to make the writer's/editor's job easier.  Good
tools and systems are a definite need. Tackling the mindset issue is another
(sometimes more difficult) part of the equation. Education and communication
play a huge role here. This is true for both the content specialists and
technical developers.

-----Original Message-----
From: Bullard, Claude L (Len) [mailto:clbullar@ingr.com]

Circa 1986-88:

On the first system we showed them, we told 
them to explore it then took the vendors out 
for a tour.  While we were gone, a writer 
used his skill of abstraction to format a 
document.  He typed


It asked:

"Really? Y/N"

He replied:


It was a bad day after that.

We got a different vendor with a more 
advanced (not DOS based) system.  It required 
us to create a DTD, parameterize the stylesheets, 
and that compiled a menu system which drove the writers 
step by step through the tasks of writing Navy 
Work Packages.

They hated it.  

o  The group leader couldn't type.

o  The senior writer had a crush on a girl 
   in the typing pool.  We were obsoleting her job.

o  They all had to put up with the smart mouth 
   whose job it was to write the DTDs.

o  The workstations functioned as room heaters.

o  The software didn't work right when it came 
   to importing the schematics.

o  The compiled output was in the form of raster 
   files and the byte order was reversed from that 
   of the destination display machine.

Sociology and technology conspired to make the 
smart mouth a very unpopular guy.  But that's the gig.
We found another position for the steno gal, improved 
the HVAC, bought a different schematic package, and 
beat the hell out of the vendor until they redid the 
raster export utility.  The group leader never learned 
to type, but that freed up a machine so we got to hire 
another writer.  The smart mouth continued to be 
unpopular, but the bosses' secretary took a liking to him.

It went that way for six months. Then  a crunch came and 
we were able to meet the bosses' demands without 
losing our weekend. They became fans.  Later when 
the Navy brass showed up and personally congratulated 
them for pulling the system together, they became 
evangelists.  What was most notable about the Mentor 
Context SGML system was that once the initial setup 
was done, the writers, all of whom except one had 
zero familiarity with Apollo workstations and code, 
were able to improve the system incrementally themselves 
once they learned the system.

As they did that, they took a lot of pride in it. 

o  Any system that enables the writer to improve his 
   or her own lot interests them if they can master 
   it on the job and without embarassment.

o  Any system that will get them out of the office 
   by 5PM on Fridays and keep them from working on 
   the weekends will interest the writers.  

o  Any system that will catch their mistakes before 
   their boss, their best friend or their worst 
   enemy finds them will interest the writers. 

o  Any system that will keep them productive and 
   up their throughput without the need to hire 
   more writers will interest their boss.

o  Any system that will reduce the number of writers 
   needed to keep the throughput consistent will 
   interest their boss.  It will not interest the 

o  Any system that comes with a smart mouth should 
   also come with a secretary.  That makes it interesting.

A writer sees the system as a means to get the 
job done on time.  The boss sees the system as 
a means to get more work done.  These are not 
the same point of view and you will have to 
steer between them.


From: Doug Rudder [mailto:drudder@drugfacts.com]

I would be greatly interesting in receiving input/comments/opinions from
other experiences with introducing writers/editors to a structured markup
environment. All of my experience (9+ years) is with the same company,
working in a number of closely related problem spaces; other perspectives
would be useful to me.

If anyone is interested (entirely up to you), my original XML 2001
presentation is available on the precedings CD or online at:
http://www.idealliance.org/xmlfiles/issue37/techwriting.asp. It provides
perspective related to XML in reference publishing and discussion related to
the issues in this thread. Any feedback would be welcome.

Douglas Rudder     drudder@drugfacts.com
"At least in theory, XML is supposed to provide a middle ground 
between human and machine-readable." -- Simon St. Laurent

"Schema designers, authors, and those developing the software 
that processes the data all have to work together to find
the appropriate tradeoffs." -- Mike Champion

The xml-dev list is sponsored by XML.org <http://www.xml.org>, an
initiative of OASIS <http://www.oasis-open.org>

The list archives are at http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/

To subscribe or unsubscribe from this list use the subscription
manager: <http://lists.xml.org/ob/adm.pl>


News | XML in Industry | Calendar | XML Registry
Marketplace | Resources | MyXML.org | Sponsors | Privacy Statement

Copyright 2001 XML.org. This site is hosted by OASIS