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Subject: Re: [docbook-apps] production environment

This has stimulated lots of great responses at the detailed level.

There are some high-level considerations that may be helpful to

1) There is a fundamental difference in approach that is required to
   move from writing in Word to using any structured, semantic markup 
   solution such as DocBook.  Word is a presentation markup,  If you are
   going to continue with presentation oriented markup, going to 
   DocBook may not be worth the effort.  The very fundamental shift in 
   mental models that must take place on the part of the writers and 
   editors to move from concern over what something looks like to what 
   something is can be difficult.  The potential gain is tremendous, but
   the change in the mental process can be challenging and take a lot of

2) If you move from Word to DocBook for semantic markup, one of the 
   problems with equipping writers with a WYSIWYG editor is that they 
   may continue marking thing up to get the presentation they are after 
   rather than using the semantically correct element (we have been 
   using DocBook for years and still have writers using firstterm to 
   get bold).  With some writers, it is better to make a clean break to 
   something like oXygen that does not even try to show the 
   presentation resulting from the markup.

3) We have about a 70/30 split among the writers here with about 70%
   wanting WYSIWYG and about 30% actually preferring editing the markup
   directly.  Some even provide their own editors to avoid having to use
   the WYSIWYG one selected by the department.  The writers with 
   backgrounds in programming tend towards the straight markup editors 
   like oXygen and EMACS and seem to "get" semantic markup very rapidly.

4) If you are using non-WYSIWYG editors for DocBook, fast preview 
   processing is very important for writers to feel comfortable with
   the new writing process.  Getting to HTML is usually fast and a 
   number of the commercial XML editors provide access to transforms
   from a menu or button bar item to support this.

I admire your problem.  Moving an organization from any solution that
works to another, no matter how great the new solution might be is
always difficult.

Larry Rowland

On Mon, 2006-08-07 at 17:52 +0300, Aaron Mehl wrote:
> Hi all,
> I am working in a multinational who documents in msword. I have
> suggested to move from word to XML publishing. The idea is to at first
> save all docs as wordml and then round trip to docbook. And only then
> decide whether to use Docbook or a custom XML for our company.
> The issues are:
> 1. being able to exactly replicate our Templates using docbookxsl style
> sheets
> 2. cost of set up and maintenance of the system
> 3. Authoring environments that are inexpensive and won't frighten MS
> word users
> 4. The ability to let those who just can't switch continue to author in
> MS word.
> To name a few.
> So now the question:
> For those of you working in a production environment using Docbook:
> 1. How hard was moving to Docbook?
> 2. How expensive was moving?
> 3. How time consuming?
> 4. Are there noticeable savings in money and time?
> 5. How practical is it to round trip authoring in msword and publishing
> in docbook?
> 6. Do the writers like docbook or word better?
> 7. Is this possible with free software or must commercial apps be used?
> 8. What unexpected costs obstacles arouse during the conversion process.
> 9. What does it cost to maintain the system?
> 10. If you were given the choice to do it over again would you still
> move to using Docbook?
> 11. Were the docbookxsl style sheets enough with customizations or were
> new style sheets built from the ground up necessary?
> Other comments?
> Thanks,
> Aaron
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