Re[2]: What Editors and Tech Writers Do

Subject: Re[2]: What Editors and Tech Writers Do
From: KAREN_LEICHEL@xxxxxxxx
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 1999 21:55:17 -0500
    KAREN_LEICHEL@xxxxxxxx wrote:
>> -Companies that are not large enough to segment jobs in this way can either
>I don't see how this can apply to you. There is a big difference between a
>company that is too small to be able to "do things right" and one that
>doesn't recognize the value of its document systems. Your company makes
>*tanks* right? Presumably the sale of a single tank pays the price for a
>technical support person many times over.

I never said they are doing things in exactly the correct way! But we are
dealing with bureaucracy on a scale only government contractors and government
workers see on a daily basis. That is in no way a "perfect world" and never will
>Let me be clear on this: in my perfect world, most companies would have
>its own DTDs, stylesheets, editor customizations, transformations etc.
>Every company has different documentation needs. I've had no luck selling
>that vision to small companies (for good reasons) so I now tell them that
>buying something CLOSE to their needs is the next best thing. The bigger a
>company gets, though, the more the difference between "CLOSE" and "just
>right" becomes expensive. 30+ writers/translators/editors wasting an hour
>a day, 250 days a year. It's expensive even at the shamefully depressed
>wages of modern writers.

Halleluia and amen to that! But actually we have only 14 writers and 6 of those
are contract. And right now we are at pretty much the highest number I've seen
in my years here.

>If you trade me a tank I'll do your DTD/XSL/DSSSL/editor
>customizations...whatever. This one:
> looks like it has some pretty
>cool peacetime uses.

I'll pass that on, but you'll be dealing with the Dept of Defense (DOD). That
could be your worst nightmare come true!

>>  -b) they can buy a package of schema/transform/stylesheet/editor from a
>> -vendor. 

>> ...

>> We tried this and it cost us a tremendous amount of money!! 

>If you generate as much documentation as I would guess you generate, and
>it is as complicated as I would guess it is, you've got to factor in the
>costs of using tools that aren't designed with your needs in mind. 

Like using Word to produce 500 page books because "everybody knows it"?

>It's just like accounting or database systems. Big companies with
>complicated accounting requirements buy complicated systems and customize
>the hell out of them. Small companies usually make do with QuickBooks,
>even if they know that they are wasting time sometimes with stuff that
>could be automated in a perfect world. I would usually put defense
>contractors in the former category.

Defense contractors for Navy and Air Force are usually in the former catagory.
Army gets a considerably smaller cut of the budget.

>> I'd like to find a company to work for that has this luxury. The "other
>> technical resources" generally resent it too.

>Technical resources can be people you hire. You are absolutely right that
>most IS departments are not much help.

Our IS people are fine, but five can't do the jobs of sixty. I beta test
"changes" for them sometimes to avoid very big errors.

>> -The only reliable path is b). This is, therefore what I advocate for small
>> -companies.
>> Thanks very much for the advice!! I am not being facetious. I will take your
>> e-mail (without my comments, of course) to the powers that be here.

>Don't forget to tell them about my offer! One grizzly. That's all I need.
>I'll give you stylesheets and DTDs for life.

I happen to be working on the Multiple Launch Rocket System manual. It is far
more reliable than the Grizzly, having been fielded for 15 years, and has the
added advantage of being able to take out your neighbor's overly loud parties
when you can't sleep!

Karey Leichel

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for only himself

"Like most religious texts, the XML 1.0 spec has proven itself 
internally-inconsistent, so we're going to have to invent some kind of 
exegetical method now to show how it's really all an allegory." - Anon

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