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

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On Wednesday 19 February 2003 10:31 am, Doug Rudder wrote:
> Education is certainly a key component.  I work for a publisher that uses a
> markup-based publishing system (reference publishing).  I joined the
> company in 1993 as a technical writer/editor about a month after they began
> implementing the new publishing system. Adjusting to a structured
> authoring/editing environment required a huge shift in mindset for all of
> us, and there was certainly resistance to the change.  But what was once a
> print-only publishing house now has a variety of electronic products and
> data licensing initiatives enabled by SGML/XML that would not have been
> possible before.

I used to play the role of evangelist for SGML for precisely the reasons 
above, and I used to warn people that SGML has large up-front costs, but big 
downstream potential ROI. Nothing in the tool set has changed that... and 
unfortunately, it still isn't much easier to publish to multiple channels.

> I would be greatly interesting in receiving input/comments/opinions from
> other experiences with introducing writers/editors to a structured markup
> environment. 

I've worked on a number of projects for/with publishers... most of the stories 
are similar to yours, though in many cases, the resistance in the authoring 
community just never went away, and in some cases, authors were actively 

One of my failed evangelical projects involved a very large textbook 
publisher. Being a naive, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed evangelist, I looked 
around and lo and behold, I found that their production type setting system 
(homegrown IBM mainframe application) used inline marker pairs for almost all 
aspects of print layout. All I could see was angle brackets.

Thinking that I might be able to convince them to use SGML and thereby be able 
to supply both the print, and online information products, I set off on an 
evangelical spree. I showed how a single source could produce print, CDROM, 
and (still emerging) web products at a fraction fo the cost that it normally 
would take. About a year later, I gave up. The two things I had going against 
me were:

  1) The print people were *very* conservative
  2) The publisher was already used to conversion (a lot of double-entry), 
       and already had a standard internal format with a sophisticated
       toolchain. They could produce HTML/SGML whenever they wanted 

The bottom line was that SGML was neither wanted nor needed. I learned a lot 
about apparent and real ROI in that one ;-)


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