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Re: Is "Hand Authoring" XML still a critical use case ?

  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • To: David Lee <dlee@calldei.com>
  • Date: Thu, 09 Dec 2010 14:05:34 -0500

Re:  Is "Hand Authoring" XML still a critical use case ?
On 12/9/10 12:23 PM, David Lee wrote:
> Is Hand Authored XML really an important issue nowadays ?

I do it almost every day.

> I argue that lack of good Apps is the problem really.

I'll agree that most XML editors have their flaws.

> Take an example. Does ANYONE "Hand Author" Word or PDF documents ? I
> think not.

They weren't designed with hand-editing in mind.  You _can_ hand author 
Word XML, but again, that definitely wasn't what its creators had in mind.

> Yet does anyone complain about how hard it is to author Word or PDF
> Documents ? All I hear from authors is how they DON’T want to author XML,
> they want Word. The actual file format is irrelevant to most document
> authors (except us geeks).

My authors are geeks, but a good third of O'Reilly books get authored in 
DocBook.  Around half of those authors use GUI editors of some kind, but 
I'm hearing a lot of excitement lately from authors using vim to edit 
raw XML.

> The user experience in the application is what authors see.
> So I ask, "Is Hand Authoring XML an important design criteria?" …
> I suggestion "No", but rather "Availability of good Authoring Tools" is
> what's critical.
> <duck/>

The same debate comes up regularly in HTML circles.  You certainly can 
stick to tools there, probably more effectively than in XML.  However, 
reaching a certain degree of proficiency pretty much always propels 
people into direct editing, at least a lot of the time.

It's yet another 80/20 - 80% of cases are fine working through tools, 
but the other 20% tends to be the interesting stuff.

Simon St.Laurent

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