Musings on X-Pubs

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Next week I’m heading down to Reading to attend the X-Pubs conference, where I’m hoping to learn more about both how a solid XML publishing solution is implemented and, ultimately, why I need to bother. OK, I know why I need to bother so I guess I should re-phrase that to “how I justify all the effort involved”.

I’ve done my fair share of research in the past, and have previously implemented an AuthorIT based solution. That worked reasonably well for our needs back then, but I’m with a different company now and the needs have, naturally, changed. I know all about the benefits of single sourcing content (re-use), and why XML is the best choice for storing that content (re-factorability, if that’s a word!) but as yet I’ve still not seen the killer product/solution that makes things:

  1. easy to implement – I’ll accept some pain but most of the solutions I’ve seen have a fairly large knowledge mountain to climb
  2. easy to adapt – I have, currently, very specific needs dictated both by the company and our product, and by my the needs of my team.

Of course no such solution exists, or we’d all be using it, right?

And that’s why I’m attending the X-Pubs conference.

I do believe that single sourcing is THE way to go about things in technical communications, almost (implementation costs aside) without reservation for any size of team and almost without regard for what they are producing. Like here in the UK, which is trapped between imperial and metric measurements, the technical communications industry seems to be a mix of differing output requirements. Some audiences demand printed manuals, some want websites full of searchable content, whilst others are happy with PDFs or online help. And that’s before we start worrying about localisation (localization).

I’m not entirely sure what I’ll discover at the conference, and I’m doing my best to keep an open mind, but I truly believe that the power of single sourcing will remain the refuge of the few until someone comes up with a workable, affordable solution that everyone can use.

I’ll be posting from the conference (possible even “live blogging”), so come back on the 4th June to find out what’s going on.

Do you single source? Or have you consider it in the past but never pursued it, and if so, why not?

One thought on “Musings on X-Pubs

  1. Adrian

    I think the question really should be “Do you know what single sourcing is”. The answer is “not a clue”.

    Incidentally, if you are down London way, give me a ring and I’ll buy you a pint.

    Also, can we get full feeds on your feeds?

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