Diane Gaskill wrote:

> Now I have another question, almost as complicated.  Structured FM can
> work with both OASIS XML standards: DocBook and DITA.  But which one is
> the better standard to use?  Or does it make any difference?  One of our
> divisions in Japan has decided on AT with Docbook 4.2 because it is what
> one of our OEM customers use.  They want us to do the same.  We would
> rather use FM, but are undecided on which standard to use.

The structure that you use should be one that best describes the data,
even if that means creating your own. (I think there's a good chance that
you should.) Deciding on a structure based on tools rather than data
requirements is putting the cart before the horse. It's the equivalent of
telling technical writers that the manual to be written for a new piece of
software has to be 320 pages long so it will fit in the boxes that have
already been made.

What if Japan decides on DocBook and you spend the next year aligning with
them, only to have them change their mind? Or what if they upgrade the
version that they're using and you can't keep pace? Why tie your
documentation strategy to what they're doing?

Why don't you do whatever best describes the data, then use XSLT to
convert to whatever format your partners require? It might look easier to
do the same thing as other groups are, but it's false economy. The closer
you're all tied together, the harder it is for anyone to change anything.
Keep your data agile.


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