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Successful Single Sourcing

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The goal of any single-sourcing project always the same: …

The goal of any single-sourcing project always the same:

To increase the efficiency of the entire staff as the demand for documentation increases while staffing and resources do not.

Published in: Technology

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  • 1. Successful Single Sourcing Liz Fraley Single-Sourcing Solutions
  • 2. The Goal of Single Sourcing The goal of any single-sourcing project always the same: To increase the efficiency of the entire staff as the demand for documentation increases while staffing and resources do not.
  • 3. The Single-Sourcing Triangle l Single sourcing is a simple idea that requires a very complex implementation: l Single sourcing is a methodology, not a technology. l XML is a technology, not a methodology. l No vendor provides every piece of the puzzle.
  • 4. Benefits of Single Sourcing l Accuracy and consistency l Information scaling l Automated production to increasingly more formats l Changes populated across documents, document versions, and into the product l Separation of content from look and feel l Automated editing tasks and content error detection
  • 5. Successful Single-Sourcing l Design with single-sourcing in mind l Design the project to work l Let the technology do it’s job l Minimize customization l Promote a single, overall, guiding vision l Design for extensibility l Watch for places where application-specific tools can make a difference
  • 6. Design with Single Sourcing in Mind l Design rules for authoring to promote multiple output formats l Analyze information dimensions l Product-by-product l Document-by-document l Release-by-release l Modularize information l How much is similar? l How much is different? l Where can you share? l Where can’t you share?
  • 7. Let the Technology Do Its Job l Require that tagging will determine style l Make entities out of chunks l Not every thing is a chunk, but everything is a potential chunk. l Create entities for shared content l Create entities for unique content l Create entities from generated content l Create multiple single-purpose content libraries
  • 8. Minimize Customization l Use standards where appropriate, and where support is available l Docbook, DITA l CALS tables, OASIS tables l XSLT, XSL-FO, FOSI l Try to do as little customization as possible. l In the early days, use training to cover customization; this may not be desirable but may be tolerable l Customizations can improve in the user experience in the future, but may not be deliverable early on
  • 9. Promote a Single, Overall, Guiding Vision l Employ a Control Board to make decisions l Establish clear, well-defined style guide and writing guidelines l Enforce decisions l “Company Structure” l “Company Look and Feel” l Use restrictive templates, DTDs and stylesheets l Train team members to think about information and organization in new ways
  • 10. Design the Project to Work l Make Decisions l A “Company Structure” and a “Company Look and Feel” l Make Compromises l Choose a Look and Feel that fits the tools and their capabilities l Change existing templates to fit future output l Take Small Steps l Start with books that don’t have tight time requirements l Conversion and tool work are not parallel processes l Use a Staged Delivery Method l Do not try to plan and deliver the entire, “finished” project all at once
  • 11. Design for extensibility l Minimize information’s dimensions l Two dimensions are easy to visualize, but three is difficult and four near impossible. l Existing resources can determine an initial implementation; plan for second and third generation implementations. l Revisit the data analysis as you integrate new books and new types. l Remember that no analysis is never stable. l There will always be new deliverables and new document types coming down the road.
  • 12. Application-Specific XML Tool Development l Simplify reviews, improve turn-around l Diffs, isolated-changes, change history l Auto-generate information to put into documentation l Auto-generate information from documentation to put into product help l Reduce time requirements l Improve searching – in repository, within a document, across documents, on web
  • 13. Original Juniper Technical Publications Department l Project started in August 2001 l Active documentation: l 100 software documents l 36 hardware documents l 8 edit passes for 100 software documents l 4 edit passes for 36 hardware documents l Team: l 14 writers l 3 editors
  • 14. Juniper Technical Publications Department Since Then.. l 3 integrations of new companies l 505 software documents l 224 hardware documents l 32 products l 7 old products (2 sw, 5 hw) l 25 new products (15 sw, 10 hw) l Team: l 39 Writers l 4 Editors
  • 15. Implementation Success l 2003: l PIC books delivered to print, web and CD l M-Series hardware Books delivered 06/15/2003 l 2004: l New EOL PIC books l All T-Series hardware documentation l All new hardware documentation for M7i, M10i, M320 l Hardware release notes, all platforms l FRU documents for all existing hardware platforms converted
  • 16. Implementation Success l PIC books all updated together l Most information is shared l Two PIC books per platform l Any (or all) PIC books may need updating each release l With Frame, 6 books released 4 times a year and took 3 months to update and produce l With XML, 20 of these books take only 2 weeks to update and publish 8 times per year
  • 17. Implementation Success l Create release notes directly in XML l Scripts search the bug tracking system for release note fields l Information dumped directly into XML l Editing in Epic takes less than 1 hour l Syslog, JUNOScript books: whole chapters generated from the build l Auto-generated XML information takes less time to edit and convert to required output formats than traditional methods.
  • 18. Single-Sourcing Metrics Dec-03 Mar-03 Jun-03 Sep-03 Dec-03 Converted/New Documents 7 1 17 17 11 Updated Documents 0 6 6 26 30 Total Documents through Production 7 7 23 43 41 Total Converted/New to Date 7 8 25 42 53 Total Updated to Date 0 6 12 38 68 Cumulative Times Through Production 7 14 37 80 121 Retired Per Month 0 0 0 10 6 Total Retired 0 0 0 10 16 Total Books 66 66 84 99 97 10/2003: only the hardware books have been fully converted
  • 19. Management Requirements for Success l Make a decision and agree stick with it l Design realistic schedules l Use your budget to your benefit l Hire one or more experts in the beginning l Train team members to partner with and learn from the experts l Realize that limited staffing and resources will extend your timeline, but with a staged delivery you can get there l Encourage opportunities for automation l Re-sell upwards whenever possible