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Re: [xml-doc] Quoting Jon Bosak correctly

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  • larry.kollar@arrisi.com
    ... And just as important is the baseline from which Jon derives that 40% figure. I ***THINK*** the baseline implied in the article involves typing up a
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 7, 2002
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      > What Jon said, exactly, is:
      > In industrial contexts, it is commonly estimated that marking up
      > technical material adds about 40% to the work of writing the
      > text.[2]
      > There's a big difference between that and what you are attributing to
      > Jon: that he said using XML (or DITA), specifically, adds 40% to the
      > work of writing text.

      And just as important is the baseline from which Jon derives
      that 40% figure. I ***THINK*** the baseline implied in the
      article involves typing up a document using a text editor (or
      a word processor with minimal formatting) -- basically a "glass
      typewriter" mode.

      What I got out of the article was that metadata is a difficult
      and important part of the equation. Adding metadata to an
      otherwise un-tagged scientific document probably *does* add 40%
      to the overall effort. The questions are:

      1) Does that 40% figure apply to all types of writing?
      I don't think so. For technical documentation, I'd guess
      the added burden is far less since we already have to
      add more traditional types of metadata (index entries).
      Depending on how the processes change, we may end up
      deriving many index entries from metadata -- instead of
      adding more work, we just move it around a bit.

      2) Whether the payback comes in a reasonable amount of time.
      If we're putting out more effort up front, we want to get
      that back somehow. If you don't branch out beyond the old
      paper manual, you probably won't see much of a return.
      The payback comes when you can quickly provide things like
      quick references, searchable on-line documents, screen-
      formatted PDFs, and the like, with little effort on the
      back end. [XML isn't a requirement here, but it can help.]

      3) Whether *any* of the work can be automated to some extent.
      Jon used an example of tagging chemical reagents as such.
      A trained user could probably make that kind of change
      quickly, but I wouldn't trust a fully-automated system
      any more than I'd trust an automatic indexer. :-)

      There's also the question of consistency, which Jon mentions
      in the article. If everyone goes off & tags things their own
      way, you end up with a big mishmash that you'll probably have
      to sort out by hand (i.e. more effort, sadly wasted). Thus the
      call for the publishers to create a standard document type
      that all of them can use to make their individual efforts more

      Larry Kollar, Senior Technical Writer, ARRIS
      "Content creators are the engine that drives
      value in the information life cycle."
      -- Barry Schaeffer, on XML-Doc
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