RE: Re: Are the publishing users happy? Why not?
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@i...] 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 C:\format It asked: "Really? Y/N" He replied: "Y". 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 writers. 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. len From: Doug Rudder [mailto:drudder@d...] 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@d... "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>
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