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Subject: General question about creating docbook documents (maybe OT)

Hi there.

I would like to ask the list members: how do you create docbook- 
compilant XML documents? What does your workflow looks like so to say?  
Do you write XML files in a XML editor? A web interface? My apologies  
if this is slightly off topic.

I am asking this purely because I am interested (of course...). My  
employer is a manufacturer of industrial goods and tools. Until now,  
all our technical documentation (mainly operating instructions and  
spare parts lists) have been made with Indesign. And over time, we  
faced some very big problems:

1) Because technical documentation must be translated into many  
different languages, providing translators with documents that they  
can edit has been a hassle. In the best case, some translators had  
access to Indesign and were able to edit the original document. Re- 
using existing translations though wasn't easy / possible with this  

2) Updating existing documentation depends on remembering. E.g if one  
needed to change a product name or some technical data, you must know  
the documents where that data appears (sometimes, several different  
documents are effected by a change and those documents had several  
different translations). A simple change could easily take several  
hours to do.

3) Keeping track of what was changed, when and by whom had been a real  
mystery and still is.

A year ago or so, I was able to convince by employer to utilize a  
docbook-based workflow for creating technical documentation. At that  
time, I was looking for applications, tools and so on that would make  
this workflow feasible. Because some of the guys working with  
technical documentation are not very tech savvy, I was looking for a  
more or less intuitive, easy-to-use (web-based) solution - without  
much success.

However, because I couldn't find anything affordable (some systems  
cost about 100.000 EUR), I sat down and developed a system by myself.  
The web-based system I came up with makes building a docbook XML file  
(and converting to PDF)  a matter of drag-and-drop (with validation of  
course), it keeps track of all changes and it is comparably easy to  
use for a none-programmer. Besides that, having documentation in many  
different languages is now a no-brainer. But every now and then, I was  
wondering if there had been a more simple solution.


ps. if someone would like to have a look at the system, you are  
welcome to contact me off-list ds.

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