Your points are well-taken and I didn't mean to be confrontational. I just 
thought that your "return on investment . . . is likely to be rather small" 
statement might not be completely true. I didn't realize that you were speaking 
in terms of making a business case. Indeed, it is very, very difficult to 
quantify and justify authoring conveniences. How can you possibly put a dollar 
value on something like "numbered lists that always start at 1 automatically"? 
I know the value as a writer, because I've done it umpteenbillion times and 
after a while, the savings really add up. I wouldn't know how to put that in a 
proposal, though. Luckily, I've not had to do that yet.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: structured Frame
From: "Fred Ridder" <>
Date: Tue, September 11, 2007 11:54 am
To: russ at,  framers at


I've never said that using structured authoring in a single-writer
department didn't have significant advantages compared to
non-structured authoring. There *are* some real benefits, but
they tend to be less quantifiable tangible and harder to proove
to managers or business analysts who have to sign off on the
budget and implementation plan. The gains in collaboration and
writing a topic only once, which are generally more demonstrable,
become more significant as the number of writers increases, and
the big cost savings come when you're doing single-sourcing and/or
translation. My point was just that for a single writer producing
documents in a single language with a low degree of single-
sourcing, it will be harder to make a compelling *business* case
for adopting structure.

Also, my comments were made in the context of Miriam's stated
situation where she is dealing with a "a large suite of documentation".
It may make a lot of sense for her to use structured Frame for new
documents going forward, but the case for converting all of the
legacy documentation is less clear to me. Besides the fact that the
productivity gains will be smaller for converted existing documents,
it is very common to underestimate the amount of time (and cost)
it will take to properly convert legacy documents. Yes, you can
automate the tagging, but that doesn't mean that the content
actually matches the structure as it is written. (If it did all conform
already, you wouldn't really be gaining much direct benefit from
using structure, would you?)

-Fred Ridder

>From: russ at
>To: framers at
>Subject: RE: structured Frame
>Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2007 05:08:25 -0700
>Good summary. I have one thing to add and one disagreement...
>For the average author, the biggest advantage of structured Frame might be 
>simply the superiority of the authoring environment. It is so much easier 
>to navigate, select, cut/paste, move, and format your content when you have 
>a structure tree to work with (things which, as an author, I do A LOT). It 
>takes time to get to know all the little tricks, but once you do, you'll 
>never go back to unstructured Frame. When I do, I get frustrated by the 
>inefficiencies much the same as going back to working with Word. This holds 
>true whether or not you ever actually save as XML and presents a compelling 
>reason to use structured Frame, no matter what. There is an investment 
>involved, but the payoff in authoring/editing efficiency pays you back over 
>and over again.
>My disagreement is the point about the lone writer. I am a lone writer and 
>I depend heavily on structured Frame. Were I to use unstructured Frame, I 
>would simply not be able to get my job done. It's all about how quickly I 
>can get content on the page and how effectively I can use various 
>single-sourcing techniques that make my workload possible.
> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>From: "Fred Ridder" <docudoc at>
>Subject: RE: structured Frame
>To: miriamb at, framers at
>Message-ID: <BAY106-F367835C9077974FC4F2780BAC00 at phx.gbl>
>Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
>Since nobody else has chimed in on this one, let me offer a few
>It seems to me that the big advantages of structured authoring
>fall into a few general areas:
>-enhanced ability to publish content in different forms
>(definition A of "single sourcing")
>-enhanced ability to reuse content in different contexts
>(definition B of "single sourcing")
>-reduced translation costs from direct reuse of existing
>translated content modules
>-more consistent organization of information across different
>-more consistent organization of content written by different
>-more consistent presentation of similar information types
>-content is (theoretically) portable across a range of different
>structured authoring/editing/publishing tools (i.e. you're
>not locked into a proprietary file format)
>For a lone writer, unless you have a significant requirement for
>single sourcing (under either or both definitions of the term),
>or have your documents translated into a lot of languages,
>the return on investment for migrating to a structured
>documentation environment is likely to be rather small.
>The big payoffs from a financial standpoint (the key ingredient
>of the business case for converting) stem from the reuse of
>content. This is a direct, demonstrable, quanitifiable benefit.

Get a FREE small business Web site and more from Microsoft? Office Live!

Reply via email to