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How to Stay Sane in An Insane Economy - Center for Information

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AUGUST 2003
VOLUME 5, NUMBER 4
How to Stay Sane in An Insane Economy
Helen Sullivan, Director of Technical Career Development, Collin County Community College District
There’s no doubt about it. We live in crazy
times. Some may call them insane.
And one of the craziest places to be these
days is at work.
You find pressure and stress everywhere
you look:
impossible deadlines, and no recognition
for work done under increasingly stressful
circumstances.
No Wonder I’m Depressed!
How you feel about these events and circumstances often determines how you respond to
♦ Last year, the government exercised very
them. In other words, your attitude plays a sigvisible public pressure on corporations to
nificant role in how you handle life’s unexcorrect suspect accounting
pected curve balls.
practices. This shake-up in
How do these reactions and
corporations may have
feelings about negative events
started at the top, but you’d
and circumstances manifest
“…your
better believe that this presthemselves in the workplace?
attitude plays
sure rolled downhill to the
See if any of the following
lowliest person on the corresonate with you:
a significant
porate totem pole.
role in how
♦ Procrastination—Do you
♦ Although 2003 hasn’t seen as
habitually arrive late for
you handle
significant a number of laywork or miss deadlines?
offs as 2002, the economy
life’s
♦ Emotions on the edge—Do
still has areas of instability,
unexpected
you snap at co-workers or
and no one really considers
customers and find yourself
curve
balls.”
his or her job totally secure.
in ongoing conflicts with
♦ Some companies are still
other departments?
struggling to stay in business, and others
♦ Frustration from lack of control over cirwho had planned to flex their entreprecumstances—Do you have more health
neurial muscles have decided to postpone
issues than are normal for you, or do you
investing in new ventures. As a result,
find that you are seeking comfort in alcoalong with earlier downsizing, out-ofhol, drugs, or excessive eating?
work employees have flooded a tight job
market.
♦ Survivors of layoffs may have kept their
jobs, but at what price? They are under
incredible pressure to perform, not only
their normal work but also the work that
remained from employees who left voluntarily or involuntarily.
♦ Add to these factors the regular garden
variety of negative circumstances that
haven’t gone away—office politics, a difficult boss or co-worker, boring work,
♦ Inflexibility—Do you cling to old ways of
doing things, or do you revert to your
default personality type?
CONTENTS
How to Stay Sane in An
Insane Economy
page 93
From the Director
page 94
CASE STUDY
Single Sourcing HTML and
PDF with FrameMaker and
WebWorks
page 98
CASE STUDY
Usability, Knowledge
Management, and the
Bottom Line
page 103
CONTENT MANAGER’S NOTEBOOK
Intellectual Property:
Culture, Commerce, and
Digital Rights Management
page 107
TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
The Growth of ASP Content
Management
page 112
TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
Enabling Language
Translation with XML Tools
and Standards
page 115
BOOK REVIEW
What’s in The Rise of the
Creative Class for Technical
Communicators?
page 121
Manager’s Calendar
page 124
Choose Your �Tude, Dude!
“Now that I’m all depressed thinking about
my stressors and what I’m not doing to address
them, is there anything I can do about them?”
Yes. I’m here to tell you that you can do
something very effective… you can choose
your attitude. Believe it or not, your choice of
Continued on page 96.
The Center for Information-Development Management
710 Kipling Street • Suite 400 • Denver, CO 80215
93
FROM THE DIRECTOR
From the Director
JoAnn Hackos
Best Practices Newsletter
A publication of the Center for
Information-Development
Management.
710 Kipling Street, Suite 400
Denver, CO 80215
Phone: 303/232-7586
Fax: 303/232-0659
www.infomanagementcenter.com
Publisher and
Center Director
JoAnn Hackos, PhD
[email protected]
Managing Editor
Tina Hedlund
[email protected]
Production Manager
Lori Maberry
[email protected]
Information Developer
Christina Meyer
[email protected]
How to subscribe: a one-year subscription (6 issues) is $99.
Subscribers outside the US add
$10 (US funds only).
Contact Lisa Odneal
303/232-7586, or send email to
[email protected]
How to submit an article: contact
Tina Hedlund
[email protected]
How to join the Center:
call JoAnn Hackos at
303/232-7586,
or send email to
[email protected]
В©2003 Comtech Services, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Printed in the USA.
94
Dear Friends,
As I’m sure you all know, the theme of the
2003 Best Practices conference is Innovation:
Making It Happen. The emphasis of the conference is on the “making it happen” part. We
can all happily dream up new things to do in
our organizations, but actually proposing the
right innovations and then getting people to
adopt them often proves difficult and frustrating.
With the Innovator’s Forum, immediately
following the conference, we will help put concrete plans together to support new ideas. As
part of the planning, I’ve been reading many
articles on successful change. One of my favorites is “Tipping Point Leadership,” by W.
Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne (Harvard
Business Review, April 2003, Product 3353).
Kim and Mauborgne are management professors at Insead in Fontainebleau, France.
To prepare their article, they conducted
an in-depth study of William Bratton, who
served as police commissioner in New York
City in the 1990s and was instrumental in
lowering the city’s crime rate. They sought to
understand how he accomplished the turnaround, especially in such a politically charged
environment as New York. The tag line of the
article reads
“How can you catapult your organization
to high performance when time and
money are scarce? Police Chief Bill Bratton has pulled that off again and again.”
In my welcome address at the Best Practices conference, I will discuss in some depth
the four steps that Kim and Mauborgne outline. These steps are distilled from Bratton’s
work and help us transform the tipping point
from an interesting concept into a workable
program for change.
I’m most interested, at present, in the first
step in the process, called Breaking through
the Cognitive Hurdle. The authors explain
that most people involved in decision-making
about a change don’t respond to sensible arguments, extended examples, or even dollars and
cents. Even the bean counters, who complain
that they are interested in the numbers, won’t
act if they don’t understand the problem or
believe that any change is necessary.
Bratton’s technique, at the core of tipping
point leadership, is to help key decision makers
actually experience the problem. Without a
lesson in reality, the need for innovation never
catches on. For example, Bratton decided that
he had to convince his senior staff that the
public’s complaints about the subways were
meaningful. They simply didn’t think the
problem was that serious. Besides—New Yorkers always carp about the subway. Big deal.
Convinced that making the subway safe
was the highest priority in the turnaround,
Bratton required that all his transit police
officers commute by subway, himself included.
None of them had ridden the subway in years.
Not until they saw the graffiti, experienced the
lawlessness of the gangs, and got mired in nonworking equipment themselves did they
understand the public’s point of view. And,
only then did they agree that something
needed to be done.
Bratton had gotten his officers over the
cognitive hurdle. They had to gain a visceral
and cerebral understanding of the problem
before they were ready to respond to new
ideas. A colleague of mine used a similar tactic
a few years ago to convince his mechanical
engineering staff that they had to redesign a
critical piece of equipment used in treating
gravely ill patients. He had feedback from
users that the equipment was difficult and slow
to adjust, resulting in unnecessarily long treatment times. They reported that patients,
already anxious about their illnesses, were fur-
BEST PRACTICES • AUGUST 2003
FROM THE DIRECTOR
ther stressed by the ill-adjusted and awkward
equipment.
His problem—the engineers weren’t especially concerned. So the technicians had a
problem with the usability of the equipment.
Couldn’t they just be trained better? Our colleague used a drastic approach to move his
engineers through the cognitive hurdle. He
took them out to customer sites and had them
experience the problem firsthand.
If this sounds somewhat like a customer
site visit as part of a usability study, you’re
right. That’s exactly what occurred. The engineers observed the users trying to adjust the
equipment. They played the roles of patients,
enduring the long adjustment periods flat on
their backs with heavy lead weights on their
bodies. It wasn’t pretty. The experience
changed their entire perception of the problem. They came back committed and energized about redesigning the equipment
immediately and correcting all the adjustment
problems.
Experiencing a problem firsthand can be a
life-altering experience. I worked with a team
of software programmers designing a medicalrecords system. It was clear from a first view of
the prototype software that they were completely oblivious about the users’ world. The
prototype was completely unusable to anyone
but the designers. I suggested that they visit
some users, conveniently located across the
street from the software-development department. They took me up on the suggestion.
Months later, meeting the same programmers over lunch in the cafeteria, they told me
that the meetings with users and the direct
observations of their work had “changed their
lives.” These were senior professionals, committed to doing good work. They simply
needed to break through the cognitive hurdle.
I invite you to consider ways in which you
can help decision makers in your organization
overcome their reluctance to support innovation and change. Have they tried to find information on the corporate Web site? Do they
know how it feels to use the products the company develops? Have they seen people at work
having difficulty learning what to do?
In information development, we tend to
be a bunch of introverts who sincerely believe
that if we work hard and keep our noses to the
grindstone, someone will notice our good
work and reward us. Well folks—it ain’t gonna
happen. We need to sell the ideas we have for
making things better, after we’re certain, of
course, that the ideas are better for the customers and the company, not just for us.
Because this is the last issue before the
September Best Practices conference, you’ll
have to attend to hear my view of the rest of
the hurdles. Register today at <www.infomanagementcenter.com/conference.htm>.
I hope I’ve given you a bit of an experience, though vicarious, about change management. Please join me and your colleagues for
more real-life stories. See you in Seattle.
JoAnn
Tipping Point Leadership
Kim and Maugorgne, studying the techniques used by Bill Bratton, former police chief in New York
City, identified four hurdles to be overcome in implementing change:
Cognitive hurdle
Our staff members respond best when they experience directly the problems
our customers have in finding and using information to perform tasks or
solve problems.
Resource hurdle
By targeting our resources on contributions that add value to the organization, we make best use of what we already have.
Motivational hurdle
Political hurdle
Reforming everyone and everything at once may be appealing, but it’s
doomed to failure. We need to solve problems with key influencers who can
help to spread the message.
Powerful interests, such as product developers and marketing managers,
often resist change. We must identify the naysayers and find ways to silence
them.
Center Associates
Henry Korman
Wordplay
[email protected]
Ginny Redish, PhD
Redish & Associates, Inc.
[email protected]
Jonathan Price
The Communication Circle
[email protected]
David Walske
David Walske, Inc.
[email protected]
Advisory Council
Bill Gearhart
BMC Software
[email protected]
Julie Bradbury
Independent
Diane Davis
Synopsys
[email protected]
Vesa Purho
Nokia
[email protected]
Daphne Walmer
Medtronic
[email protected]
Palmer Pearson
Cadence Design Systems
[email protected]
CIDM Vendor Members
Arbortext
PG Bartlett
[email protected]
Progressive Information
Technologies
Suzanne Mescan
[email protected]
Innodata
Toni Sydor
[email protected]
ISOGEN International
Marit Mobedjina
[email protected]
We can apply the four-step “tipping point” strategy to the challenges of an information-development
and instructional-design environment. Learn to recognize the hurdles in your organization and discover how information managers have successfully overcome them.
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
95
HOW TO STAY SANE IN AN INSANE ECONOMY
Resources for Further
Study
How to Stay Sane in An Insane Economy, continued from page 93.
The following books are some of
my favorites that have helped me
through tough times. Maybe they
will speak to you.
When they change their thinking and discover
attitude can change your circumstances. One
that there’s more than one way to find cheese,
of the key elements of this choice is separating
their perspective on life changes.
your emotions from your circumstances.
In my own work experience, I found a
Abraham Maslow said, “One can spend a
good teacher of attitude at my first job. I
lifetime assigning blame, finding the cause �out
worked for a small daily newspaper where regthere’ for all troubles that exist. Contrast this
ular complaints were phoned in to the circulawith the �responsible attitude’ of confronting
tion department. Customers couldn’t find
the situation, bad or good, and instead of asktheir papers, the newspaper landed in a puding �What caused the trouble? Who was to
dle, the dog ate it, someone stole it—you
blame?’ Asking �How can I handle this present
name it, someone was always unhappy about
situation to make the most of it? What can I
some aspect of their service.
salvage here?’”
The circulation manager lisThere are examples all
tened patiently to each complaint
around us of how a difference in
over the phone and commiserated
attitude impacted a circum“…[as] a
with what the customer was going
stance.
manager in
through. By the end of the converIf you read Main Street, a
sation, this manager not only
classic novel by Sinclair Lewis,
your
made the customer feel better but
and contrast the reactions of
organization,
he also followed through on each
Carol and Bea to the small town
complaint and left the customer
where they live, you’ll see that
…you have a
feeling satisfied. In other words,
one woman hated the town
powerful
he changed their attitude.
because of what it didn’t have
influence over
and the other one loved it
because of what it did.
Am I the Problem or the
your group,
One of my favorite Mary
Solution?
and you set the If you are a manager in your orgaTyler Moore Show episodes featured the irrepressible Ted Baxnization, then you have a powerful
tone for your
ter, the buffoonish TV
influence over your group, and
organization.” you set the tone for your organizaanchorman who didn’t possess
many brain cells. One day, Mary
tion. If your organization seems to
was feeling depressed because
have a negative atmosphere, look
her life seemed to be in a rut. Ted told her that
at your attitudes first before you start addresshe felt the same way until he woke up one
ing your group’s collective attitude.
morning and everything he did he did with
Think about the following:
enthusiasm—it was the same daily routine,
♦ I can’t control the actions of others, but I
only he took joy in every task. (It’s not humorcan control my reaction to them.
ous to read about it here, so you’ll just have to
♦ Am I willing to take a risk to make some
see the episode in re-runs on cable.)
changes in myself?
Two good books that have striking exam♦
Do I have any false or unrealistic expectaples about changes in attitude are Zapp! The
tions?
Lightning of Empowerment by William C.
Byham and Jeff Cox and Who Moved My
♦ Do I have any significant turnover in my
Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. The first book
group, and do I understand the reason for
details a workplace that is drained by repressive
this turnover?
working conditions but is turned around when
the employees are empowered to do their jobs.
Here Are Some Options To Consider
The second book is a brief story about mice
After you’ve cleaned up any negative attitudes
who go to the same spot daily looking for their
of your own, look externally to factors that
cheese but find out one day that it is gone.
may be affecting your group.
Leadership books
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of
Leadership
John C. Maxwell
The Leadership Challenge
James M. Kouzes and Barry Z.
Posner
Leadership When the Heat’s On
Danny Cox and John Hoover
Leading Change
John P. Kotter
Principle-Centered Leadership
Stephen R. Covey
Work environment
Zapp! The Lightning of
Empowerment
William C. Byham and Jeff Cox
Toxic Work
Barbara Bailey Reinhold
Seize the Day
Danny Cox and John Hoover
Who Moved My Cheese?
Spencer Johnson
Difficult Conversations
Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and
Sheila Heen
1001 Ways to Energize Employees
Bob Nelson
More good stuff
Getting to YES
Roger Fisher and William Ury
You Don’t Have To Go Home from
Work Exhausted!
Ann McGee-Cooper
Your Personality Prescription
Roberta Schwartz Wennik (based
upon Myers-Briggs)
Influence Without Authority
Allan R. Cohen and David L.
Bradford
Working with Difficult People
Muriel Solomon
Whale Done!
Ken Blanchard
Quotes and Quips (Franklin Covey)
96
BEST PRACTICES • AUGUST 2003
HOW TO STAY SANE IN AN INSANE ECONOMY
♦ If you are the manager of a group that has
been impacted by downsizing, you can
provide a stable influence that can help
your group. To counter layoff fears and
the economic realities surrounding your
group, don’t pick extremes when responding to employees—go for the stable middle ground. You can still deliver a realistic
message to your group; you just don’t
have to use inflammatory words to deliver
it.
♦ Employees are looking to you for guidance and stability in tough times. Take
care of yourself so you can provide that
guidance and stability to others.
♦ Revisit the basics of what makes you a
great manager. What are your strengths? Is
it teambuilding, mentoring, career guidance, planning? Play to those strengths
while you shore up your areas of weakness.
♦ Where would you like to improve? Tackle
one thing at a time. Now is the time when
great leadership skills get a real workout.
Practice situational leadership.
♦ Learn all you can about your company, its
customers, and the state of the market so
you can answer employee questions and
help them understand how they fit into
the big picture.
♦ Revisit personality profiles and communication methods. Remember that office
politics revolve around relationships, and
relationships are tempered by personality
types.
♦ Have your listening skills taken a beating
lately? Listen and then test for understanding. This is such a no-brainer, but
when we are under stress, it’s one of the
first skills to go out the window.
♦ Be honest and authentic. You can be real
and professional at the same time.
♦ Foster strengths in your team, just like
you are reinforcing your own strengths.
People like to feel good about themselves
and their talent.
♦ Adversity can pull a group together. A
trainer one time joked to me that his
group performed at a high level when they
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
fought a common “enemy.” Sometimes in
the most stressful situations, the greatest
creativity surfaces.
Get Those Creative Juices Flowing
If you need some help to get started in examining where you may have attitude issues with
yourself or your group, try the following exercise.
Spend a few minutes answering the following questions and see if they lead you to
Helen Sullivan
some solutions:
Director of Technical Career
♦ Pick a circumstance or event where you
Development
remember that you were happy or content. What were the circumstances? What Collin County Community
College District
was your attitude? What affected your
attitude that caused you to be happy?
(Was it an internal change or an external
influence?)
♦ Pick a circumstance or event when you
were unhappy or discontent. What were
the circumstances? What was your attitude? What affected your attitude that
caused you to be unhappy? (Was it an
internal change or an external influence?)
♦ Pick an attitude at work that you exhibit
that you would like to change. (Some
examples: intimidated, bored, depressed,
frustrated, snappy, judgmental, victimized.)
How does this attitude impact how you
relate to others? Do you exhibit a behavior
that causes someone else to have a bad
attitude?
♦ Is there a bad attitude at work exhibited
by an individual or group? Name it. What
is the cause of this attitude? What changes
could be put in place to turn around this
attitude?
♦ Do you have an experience where you,
someone else, or a group did something
that changed a bad attitude or working
environment? Describe it.
♦ Brainstorm a list of ideas on how you can
get your employees involved in changing
the work environment (attitudes). What
would this new environment look like or
feel like?
A good attitude may not be the most important trait a person develops, but it ranks right
at the top of the list.
[email protected]
Helen Sullivan is Director of
Technical Career Development
for the Collin County
Community College District,
which is north of Dallas, with
a student population of 30,000
across five campuses. She
directs a National Science
Foundation grant to promote
careers in science and
technology by partnering with
a consortium of four colleges
and universities and by
working with advisory
councils in technology
corporations.
She formerly was Director of
Training and Documentation
Services at Nortel Networks,
with her 15-year career in
information development
starting at NEC America.
She holds a bachelor’s degree
in math from the University of
Texas at Austin and began
graduate work in journalism at
the University of North Texas
before launching her first
career as a newspaper
reporter and editor.
She is a member of the
Society for Technical
Communication (STC) and a
conference speaker on quality
processes and measurements.
97
CASE STUDY
C A S E
S T U D Y
Single Sourcing HTML and PDF with FrameMaker
and WebWorks
Peter Dykstra, Director of Product Information, Donovan Data Systems, Inc.
Peter Dykstra
Director of Product
Information
Donovan Data Systems, Inc.
[email protected]
donovandata.com.
Peter Dykstra is director of
product information at
Donovan Data Systems, Inc.
in New York. He has over 20
years’ experience as a writer,
editor, and software product
manager.
Interested in publishing to the Web but not
ready to install a full XML content-management system? That was our situation. Facing
complaints and usability issues with our library
of legacy PDFs, we decided to add HTML
support to our existing publishing environment, extending rather than replacing our current tools. The approach has let us achieve the
benefits of Web-based publishing for endusers. In the process, we’ve also laid the
groundwork for further development of our
content-management architecture and started
to think and write in content-management
terms.
We now use an automated system based
on Automap, the server-based version of
Quadralay WebWorks, to translate Adobe
FrameMaker files to HTML. The system supports HTML versions of about 50 manuals,
representing more than 10,000 pages of documentation for our core products, available to
clients on the Web. WebWorks automatically
updates the HTML library from FrameMaker
books as writers make changes to books.
Background
New product information for our company’s
software products is developed from the
ground up to be online, either built into the
products or on our support Web site. But we
also have a sizable library of information that
was published originally as books before the
days of online documentation. The bulk of
this information—any document longer than
several pages—is maintained in FrameMaker
and published on our Web site in PDF format.
People rely heavily on this information; the
online library of PDF manuals is the most visited destination area on our Web site.
Problems with PDF
Though PDF documents provide several
major benefits (such as central access to current documents, strong support for printing,
and reduced printing cost), they have several
drawbacks for online use. Our users (especially
experts who use documents frequently) com-
98
plain that PDF access is cumbersome and
inconvenient. Some specific complaints
include the following:
♦ Finding information is hard if you don’t
know which document you need. The
Web site allows searching for PDF documents that contain a phrase, for example,
but after you find a list of documents containing your phrase, you still have to
download and search each document
individually to find specific references.
♦ To look at a single topic, you have to
download the entire document. Because
manuals are generally several hundred
pages long, this is cumbersome, even with
a fast Web connection.
♦ Pages are laid out based on the pre-existing “printed page” format. Text is often
either too small to read or (if you enlarge
it) runs off the edge of the screen.
♦ PDF requires readers to switch back and
forth between the standard browser-based
interface and the Acrobat Reader interface. One sample complaint—page numbers in the original document don’t match
the PDF-assigned page numbers—creates
confusion about page references.
Overall, navigating among PDF documents
slows people down, results in unsuccessful
searches for information, and reduces performance and satisfaction.
The HTML alternative
A way to address the above issues is to publish
documents as native HTML pages on the
Web. Many people find these easier to read
online. With JavaScript or Java, it’s also possible to provide powerful search and navigation
capabilities for faster access to topics, providing a generally more responsive user interface.
The main issue in developing a large
HTML-based Web site is content management. Each page has to be created, managed,
and presented to the user as a separate file. For
BEST PRACTICES • AUGUST 2003
CASE STUDY
pages are created automatically, the software
us, this requires storing and managing thouwriters don’t have to deal with HTML or other
sands of HTML files, as well as a framework
Web technology directly.
for navigation.
A high-end approach would be to convert
all text to an XML-based content-management
Why Users Like It
and publishing system. But that’s a major
The initial release of HTML-based versions
undertaking, difficult to justify for an existing
received an extremely positive response from
library. Another, more accessible approach for
some of the heaviest users of existing PDF
FrameMaker users is to continue to maintain
manuals in our client support groups. The
manuals in FrameMaker and convert them to
general reaction was that the HTML versions
HTML for the Web. WebWorks software is
are much easier to use online than PDF. See
designed to work with FrameMaker to do this.
Figure 2. Features cited include the following:
This provides the main advantages of HTML
♦ cross-document search
publishing for the Web but is
across all documents in a
easier than switching to native
library or set
HTML or XML—for one thing,
“…[a]
more
writers can continue to use their
♦ combined table of contents
accessible
existing tools.
for multiple related books in
the same library
approach for
Our Approach
♦ responsiveness, with quick
FrameMaker
Several years ago, our publishing
jumps to any page
group decided to explore the use
users is to
♦ screen-based formatting,
of WebWorks to convert
continue to
which adjusts lines to the
FrameMaker manuals into
maintain
size of the current window
HTML, allowing us to produce
without changing font size
both output formats—HTML
manuals in
and PDF—from the same source
FrameMaker
documents. See Figure 1. We
Project Recap
already used WebWorks to proand convert
Requirements
duce HTML Help files, which
A pilot project with a small set of
them
to
were written from scratch for
established agreement
online delivery. Converting the
HTML for the manuals
among managers that documenexisting books to HTML was
Web.”
tation in HTML format would
simple in concept—we would
be beneficial, but before proceedsimply use a different Webing, we had to assess whether we
Works template to produce HTML rather
could support this on a production basis.
than Help projects. But implementation also
To be worth doing, conversion would
involved a number of significant practical
have to support HTML access to a broad
issues. We would be converting a significant
range of our legacy documentation (approxiamount of text, which had not been written
mately 50 main manuals in the US and Canfor online delivery. We had to adapt the supada). It would also have to be accessible
plied WebWorks template to work with the
through standard browsers supported by our
existing books. And we needed an infrastruccompany’s Web site. The HTML documents
ture that would allow multiple teams to pubwould have to be integrated with the existing
lish books to a single centralized library on the
Web site so users could still go to one place for
Web and update the HTML as FrameMaker
product information. (HTML would not
books were updated—all quite different from
replace PDFs, which are still useful to print
producing separate Help projects.
manuals.)
We now publish FrameMaker documents
From a production perspective, the
as both PDF and HTML. The HTML docuHTML conversion would have to work in our
ments produced by WebWorks include a comdecentralized writing environment, giving
bination of HTML and XML, with Java- or
each writer independent control over converJavaScript-based components that provide
sion of individual books but also be easy for
search and navigation. Because the coded
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
99
CASE STUDY
Figure 1. The Strategy: One Source, Two Publishing Formats
FrameMaker source files for each book are used to produce two different output formats.
Figure 2. HTML-Based Books on the Web
Users see a single table of contents and index for a multi-book set and can search for text across all HTML books. Unlike with
PDFs, the reader can jump directly to any topic in any book and see the page quickly.
100
BEST PRACTICES • AUGUST 2003
CASE STUDY
writers to use, allowing writers to work essentially as they did before, without becoming
HTML or XML experts or spending time
managing document conversion.
We wanted conversion to be unattended,
which meant we also needed a quality assurance (QA) strategy to monitor the process,
spotting errors in conversion caused by errors
in books.
We also needed an audit trail so that writers could easily tell which books had been
updated to the Web, with ability to track version status and history for a book, a set, and
the product library as a whole, with centralized
QA and a way to monitor use.
We moved all documentation files from a
Novell server to an NT-based server that could
run Automap. Quadralay provided sample
batch files for controlling unattended operation. We set up batch files that writers can use
to mark books that require updating and
extended these to provide logging and posting
of updated files to the public Web server outside the firewall.
Features
The HTML library provides the features
described below for end-users, writers, and
production managers.
For users
Implementation process
HTML books are accessible to
Based on a sampling of our
users who have passwords to our
books, we concluded that most
Web site. The output format supbooks could be converted to
ports Netscape 4+ and IE 4+
“Once in the
HTML with an acceptable level
browsers on Windows and the
of effort. We also concluded that,
Mac, accessible to most users.
HTML
once each book had been set up
Users can jump to their choice of
library, they
for conversion, the idea of updatHTML or PDF versions for each
can search and book. Once in the HTML
ing HTML in the background as
the book was updated was feasilibrary, they can search and navinavigate
ble, using WebWorks’
gate quickly across the entire
quickly across
server-based version, Automap,
HTML library. (In tests we sucwhich runs as a batch process on
cessfully set up 50 books with a
the entire
a server.
single navigation window but
HTML
The first step was to develop
found this unwieldy. We ended
library.”
a WebWorks template to support
up with multiple book sets, each
our company’s FrameMaker doccontaining 6 to 10 related books
ument templates. We developed
with common TOC, search, and
this by modifying a template proindex. We didn’t use an available
vided by WebWorks, adding HTML formatfeature that lets users mark favorite pages
ting for styles in the FrameMaker templates,
because of concern that bookmarks would
including elements such as paragraphs and
become obsolete as libraries are updated.)
character formats, cross references, and graphFor writers
ics. Development of the template was an iteraSetup for each manual requires a general scan
tive process, based on testing with multiple
for formatting issues, an initial test conversion,
manuals.
and a process of cleaning up formatting probBased on the tests, we set up a QA guide
lems. Non-standard FrameMaker formatting
that writers can use to prepare and test a manthat might work with a “printed page” format
ual for conversion. (In practice, our producin PDF often does not convert cleanly to
tion editor became an expert and a central
HTML. Most problems can be fixed by folresource for setting up books and working
lowing published tips. But some can require
with writers needing assistance.)
some painful repairs. For example, complex
We added several new elements to the
graphics with multiple layers and callouts conFrameMaker template to support HTML—
vert flawlessly if set up correctly, but if individmainly custom markers to support navigation
ual graphic elements are not placed in an
links from within the HTML pages to the releanchored frame in FrameMaker they end up
vant pages on our Web site. Adding these to
garbled or missing in HTML even though
each manual became part of the set-up process.
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
101
CASE STUDY
In the process, we’ve also cleaned up documentation files because product teams
worked together to identify the core set of
information that would be in the HTML
library.
By extending FrameMaker with WebWorks’ technology, we’ve leveraged existing
resources to produce an HTML-based library
more quickly and with less cost than possible
otherwise. Because we had to learn about the
technology to apply it to our environment, we
now have an infrastructure that’s
Behind the scenes
suited to our requirements and the
A series of batch files developed
understanding we need to support
in consultation with Quadralay
and extend it.
automates the conversion pro“…users have
In the process, we also learned
cess. A scheduled task runs on
about
some of the limitations
made it clear in
the server every 10 minutes,
inherent in our current tools and
checking for books that need
initial
documents. It’s easier to see benean update and launching batch
fits of XML-based documents and
reactions
that
jobs to convert individual
separating content from publishbooks as needed. HTML files
they now have of
ing, which our current system does
are posted to an internal Web
faster and
only in limited ways.
server so writers can check their
By adding a publishing format
easier access to
HTML output within 15 minthat depends on automated translautes after requesting a converinformation— tion, we’ve also added a set of QA
sion. The updated HTML is
requirements. Now when we write
the explicit
copied through the firewall to
a manual, it has to work as HTML.
the main Web server overnight
purpose of the
As a result, we know that our docuusing a scheduled task.
ments conform to a common strucproject.
Central log files allow
ture. This consistency can serve us
monitoring and debugging of
in various ways. For example, preproblems with individual book
sentation of information is more uniform. We
conversions (though these have been rare). A
can update document formats centrally. If we
batch command allows an administrator to
do decide to move to an XML-based system in
scan conversion logs to check for errors in all
the future, we have a common starting point,
current books in a single action. Existing Web
which would make that step much easier.
tools allow us to monitor usage levels of the
The jury is still out on how many people
HTML books on the server.
will actually use HTML in place of PDF. We’re
monitoring its use, and have added HTML
Assessment
manuals as a topic for discussion at informal
What have we accomplished? First of all, a sigroundtable assessments of product informanificant number of users have made it clear in
tion to learn which aspects users like and what
initial reactions that they now have faster and
their remaining issues are. We already have a
easier access to information—the explicit purwish list of features for the next release.
pose of the project.
they may look fine on the page in
FrameMaker.
To update a book once it’s been set up, the
writer simply clicks on a batch file in the
book’s directory on the LAN. This sets a flag
marking the book for update. A status history
file and a copy of the conversion log in each
book’s directory track when HTML updates
were requested and when they were actually
run and let a writer check directly for conversion errors detected by Automap.
102
BEST PRACTICES • AUGUST 2003
CASE STUDY
C A S E
S T U D Y
Usability, Knowledge Management, and the Bottom Line
Elsa Bethanis, Technical Writer, re:Member Data Services, Inc.
Consider this example of how poor
Imagine an auto factory with parts scattered in
knowledge management can affect anybody
random boxes. Parts are missing, in the wrong
who needs to communicate information
boxes, unlabeled, mislabeled, outdated, and
within a company. At our hypothetical comchanging constantly. Sometimes the parts sit in
pany, consultants make up a good percentage
rooms apart from the machines where they’re
of the staff and have communication tools that
used, and sometimes they are in the right
no one else has, so they can share information
room. Every now and then, someone dumps a
among themselves, but people who want to
truckload of new parts in the factory, and peowork with them do not have the necessary
ple grab a few and run off with them. Is that
tools. The consultants are locked out of the
an efficient auto factory? Of course not. And
“official” tool that employees use to communiit’s not a cost-effective one, either.
cate because it contains some confidential corSo, what’s your factory like? For knowlporate information. Some employees
edge workers, the factory is
don’t like the official tool and won’t
your company’s internal inforuse it, and other employees use only
mation structure; the people
the official tool and avoid alternative
are the machines. A company
“For
forms of communication. No intrathat’s designing software or
knowledge
net exists until some employees, desworking with highly intangiworkers, the
perate to communicate, build one,
ble intellectual assets needs
people to use that information
factory is your ad hoc. Because management doesn’t
really approve of the intranet and
efficiently. Companies that
company’s
sanctions only the official tool, only
pay attention to and tend
the people who know about the
their information gain
internal
intranet use it. Because it is worked
increased productivity; cominformation
on furtively and randomly, the ad
panies that place little value
hoc intranet is a mess, filled with
on their information are like
structure; the
irrelevant information as well as very
that disorganized factory.
people are the
relevant information, and it is diffiWho can help make the facmachines.”
cult to navigate. Information is diffitory more efficient? People
cult to find in the official tool as well
who understand information
because attempts to manage inforand usability.
mation in the tool are half-hearted and spoUsability goes hand in hand with knowlradic.
edge management. When usability experts
Because information exists in so many
make a business case for usable systems (Help
formats, it is replicated, and then, of course,
systems or other software systems), they tend
changed by whoever has it in a format that
to focus on the time end-users spend trying to
could be edited. So, a question of validity of
make a poorly designed system work. Or they
information comes up constantly. What is offifocus on the training efforts that need to be
cial? Employees spend so much time chasing
implemented to get people to use the system,
information that producing anything is diffithe cost of support, and other factors relating
cult and far more time-consuming than necesto conversions and training. But experts don’t
sary. A technical writer’s real challenge is not to
often focus on the effects that poor usability,
add to the mess of information but to centralparticularly for internal systems like intranets,
ize and organize it.
has on knowledge management and how
Say that this company has 200 employees.
knowledge management, in turn, affects the
And let’s say that those employees spend 15
bottom line.
minutes a day trying to find information and
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
Elsa Bethanis
Technical Writer
re:Member Data Services,
Inc.
[email protected]
Elsa Bethanis is a technical
writer for re:Member Data
Services in Indianapolis. She
has eight years of technical
writing experience for a
variety of software products.
She also worked as an editor
for Macmillan Computer
Publishing and earned an
MFA from the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst.
Her special interests in
technical writing include
knowledge management and
its relation to content
management, information
architecture, and the role of
technical writers in software
development processes.
103
CASE STUDY
45 minutes a day verifying information
(checking validity, trying to find who wrote
something, meeting to discuss information
that already exists, and so on). That’s one hour
a day of information gathering.
Sound unreasonable? Consider this very
plausible scenario, which all of us have
encountered in some capacity:
♦ Joe Software needs a detailed piece of
information to write some code. He does
not know whom to ask. He fires off an
email to his boss or another worker to
determine who has that information. (5
minutes for both his time and the other
worker’s time)
♦ Fortunately, he lucks out and is told that
the information he needs is documented
and on the intranet. After poking around
a bit, he finds the document. It is written
in a program he doesn’t have, but he’s a
clever knowledge worker and figures out a
way to read it without the program. (5
minutes)
♦ Joe Software spends 10 minutes trying to
understand the document. It is badly
written, but he is able to make do. Still, it
seems wrong somehow. Or he has an idea
and wants to clarify that his idea will
work. Better call the person who wrote
the original document. But who is it? (10
minutes)
♦ He calls the person who is likely to have
written the doc. But that person was not
the writer. That person writes three emails
to attempt to help Joe identify likely document authors. (10 minutes for his time
plus the time of the people trying to help
him)
♦ It turns out, finally, that the document
author is no longer with the company. Joe
Software fires an email to three people to
ask for help in clarifying the information.
(5 minutes for everybody’s time)
♦ He receives responses from three people,
plus another person who is likely to be
able to help. (5 minutes for everybody’s
time, conservatively speaking)
♦ The project was passed along to someone
new. That person completely reworked
the original document, but he didn’t
104
know that the original information was
still floating around. So, he sends Joe the
new document. (5 minutes from both
people)
♦ Joe reads the new document. The new
writer left out some information that the
original writer had included. That information was valuable. Joe emails the new
writer to ask why the original information
was left out. Just as he sends the email, he
receives an email from someone else
explaining exactly that point. (5 minutes,
from all involved)
♦ Jill Software also needs the information
Joe needs. She finds the outdated document on the intranet and assumes it’s current. She winds up working with the
outdated information and gives Joe her
deliverable. He calls her to explain what’s
changed. (10 minutes)
♦ Joe removes the old document from the
intranet and posts the new one. But he
forgot about the email that he received
from the new author that explained some
differences. The new author is hit with
questions about the same point that confused Joe. (10 minutes)
♦ Meanwhile, another person in the company saw the original document, assumed
it was current, and spent half an hour creating information that was built on the
original document. About 10 percent of
that new information is wrong.
So here we are, at more than an hour of “information gathering” time. Many of us play one
or more of these roles multiple times per day.
The more unlucky among us might spend all
or most of our days essentially chasing information around.
Let’s look at cost. If an employee is paid
$25 per hour on average, works 50 weeks a
year, and works 40 hours a week, a lost hour
per day for that employee means that the company is losing $6250 per year to unproductive
time just for that employee. If you multiply
that number by 200 employees, that is
$1,250,000 in lost productivity. Or to go back
to the factory analogy, that’s time the factory
employees spent moving parts from room to
room and box to box, not time spent actually
building anything!
BEST PRACTICES • AUGUST 2003
CASE STUDY
issue because there are so many deliverables.
But before encouraging a single-source solution for information, it’s worthwhile to consider not just how people use the deliverable
once they find it but also how—and
whether—they find it in the first place.
♦ the amount of time people spend looking
When people can’t find the information,
for the information
eventually they give up and may simply rewrite
information that may actually be available
♦ the amount of time people spend rewrit(and better written) but is unusable because it
ing and reworking information because
can’t be located. That’s additional wasted time.
they can’t find what they need
And because now the information is repli♦ the amount of time people spend quescated, users and writers just added to the pile
tioning and trying to verify the validity of
of information about a particular
the information
subject matter. Everybody must
spend more time verifying what
♦ the additional problems
“…usability
the official source of information
that develop from dupliis, question discrepancies between
cated, outdated, and ad
experts and
sources, and maintain information
hoc information
technical
that’s constantly outdated.
♦ the problems of security
A knowledge-managementwriters
need
to
risks that occur when
oriented technical writer or usabileverybody is allowed to put
consider
ity expert needs to watch to see
information wherever they
whether
their
where information surfaces and
want
why it surfaces there. Sometimes,
business cases
the information surfaces because
A special note about single
for more
it’s needed. More often, it surfaces
sourcing: sometimes singlebecause someone was trying to
sourcing problems are really
usable
make sense of information that
knowledge-management probsoftware and
already existed or because that perlems. When you’re investigating
son could not find the deliverable
an apparent single-sourcing
better
that he or she needed.
issue, you need to ask, “What is
information
A company filled with knowlthe core issue? Are people really
include
edge workers should eventually be
looking for the same or very
able to use its knowledge to prosimilar information in a variety
knowledgeduce new products of similar or
of formats?” If so, you are lookmanagement
greater difficulty with increasing
ing at a true single-sourcing
ease and less cost. When employees
issue.
factors.”
must spend most of their time repBut over time, I’ve come to
licating information just so they
consider that the preceding sort
have something to work with instead of using
of problem is not all that common. People neiinformation as a base for new solutions, you
ther want nor need the information in a variare running a factory where some parts are
ety of formats. One deliverable, properly
made at overcapacity and certain key parts are
placed, serves the need. The issue is that peonever made. Technical writers and usability
ple cannot find the deliverable in the corporate
experts can organize the factory and make the
infrastructure, so someone creates another
production of information dependable and
deliverable with similar content, and then
efficient. We can also help when the factory
someone else creates one, and then someone
has to reorganize to make new products—
else creates one… and suddenly, there are mulkeeping information available for people who
tiple deliverables in multiple locations, all at
need it.
various points of needing to be updated. So,
the problem appears to be a single-sourcing
So, usability experts and technical writers
need to consider whether their business cases
for more usable software and better information include knowledge-management factors.
We need to include
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
105
BEST PRACTICES 2003
Innovation: Making It Happen
Best Practices 2003 Conference—September 22–24, 2003
Innovations are easy to imagine and difficult to make happen. At the Best Practices conference, experience how fellow information managers make a difference in their organizations:
♦ Learn to cope by bringing current resources to bear on solving problems.
♦ Help key managers and staff understand your vision.
♦ Identify your key team members who can help everyone understand the need for change.
♦ Disarm the naysayers and laggards.
The Best Practices conference provides a forum for senior managers in information development, training, and content management to share ideas, discuss issues, solve day-to-day problems, set long-term strategies, keep abreast of new developments
and technologies, and network with a community of professional colleagues from around the world.
Prepare for the challenges of Tipping Point Leadership in introducing innovations and making the changes that your team
needs to succeed in tough economic times.
Join us for the most valuable management conference in your profession.
Innovator’s Forum—September 25–26, 2003
The Innovator's Forum is a new addition to the CIDM Best Practices conference. It provides a year-long opportunity for you
to work on an innovation and change project of your own.
♦ One and one-half day workshop immediately following the Best Practices conference (Thursday through Friday noon) to
prepare your plan to introduce an innovation to your organization
♦ Support by professional colleagues and CIDM mentors at the workshop
♦ Ongoing support through a special Forum listserv and group calls throughout the year
♦ Follow-up two-day workshop to discuss progress and challenges and to generate new ideas for success
♦ Accumulated knowledge and experience in a White Paper report to the participants
♦ Best Practices 2004 presentation of Forum results
Plan now to extend your conference experience in this stimulating professional activity. Bring back concrete results to your
team and your management from the conference.
If two people from your department attend the conference and forum, you will receive a CIDM membership for one year.
Join the Innovator’s Forum immediately following the Best Practices conference. Turn your ideas into reality.
Outstanding Speakers, Sessions, and Location
Join us at the water’s edge. The Edgewater hotel overlooks Puget Sound in downtown Seattle, Washington. It's down the hill
from historic Pike Place Market, the locale of the FISH! philosophy—last year's theme. As you prepare to attend in 2003, read
Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Back Bay 2002), this year's theme book.
Register for the conference and forum at www.infomanagementcenter.com/conference.htm.
106
BEST PRACTICES • AUGUST 2003
CONTENT MANAGER’S NOTEBOOK
C O N T E N T M A N A G E R ’S N O T E B O O K
Intellectual Property: Culture, Commerce, and
Digital Rights Management
David Walske, David Walske, Inc.
Mortal Consequence
I stood alone on the stage, save for the accompanist whom I had met moments earlier, having greeted him nervously with a
concatenated, “Hi how are you nice to meet
you,” as I handed my sheet music over the top
of an old stage-battered piano. Before me, in
an auditorium that might otherwise hold an
audience of many, stood a lone figure, Alexander Ruggieri, director of the West Hollywood Chorale.
“Please begin.” His voice resonated with
the unmistakable timber of stern authority. I
hesitated, wondering at that instant what had
possessed me to audition. Ruggieri, a man
known more for professionalism than
patience, unhesitatingly jarred me out of my
stupefaction. “And what is it that we shall hear
you sing tonight?” he asked.
For my audition piece, I had chosen, Let
the River Run, a song you may remember as
having been popularized by Carley Simon
some years ago. I began, faltering on the opening note but quickly getting a vocal grasp on
the piece, a song I had spent many hours practicing with Carley on CD.
Cruentus
I thoroughly enjoyed singing in live performances while I was a member of the chorale.
But the truth is, I would have happily attended
the rehearsals even if there never were to be a
performance. Alexander Ruggieri provided
more than musical direction. He was a fountainhead of musicological knowledge that I
found engrossing, even hypnotic. From time
to time, he would pause between songs to
impart a small measure of that knowledge,
some bit of background information pertaining to the music we were rehearsing.
Once, while rehearsing for a Mozart concert, he spoke to us of the mensural notation
sprinkled throughout a difficult piece we were
attempting to master. Mensural notation, originating in the 13th century, is a musical codification that lets composers assign a specific
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
fixed time value to individual notes within a
piece of music. In the time of Mozart, these
notes were commonly scribed in red ink, setting them apart from the other notes penned
in black so that their unique time values would
not be overlooked. According to Ruggieri, the
term mensural derives from a reference to the
blood-like color of the red ink.
So fine
Mensural notation is uncommon in modern
music, subsumed largely by counterpoint, and
when it does appear in print, such as in a modern publishing of Mozart’s works, it does not
generally appear in blood-red ink. However,
modern music is not without its own kind of
sanguinity. Musical composition is sometimes
the object of dispute in figuratively bloody
battles over intellectual property ownership.
In 1970, Apple Records released George
Harrison’s well-received solo album, All Things
Must Pass. While not his first solo effort, many
regard the album as fundamental to the successful launch of Harrison’s post-Beatles career.
The centerpiece song of the album, My Sweet
Lord, enjoyed great popularity in its release as a
single. Unfortunately even as My Sweet Lord
was flying high on music charts worldwide, the
copyright holders of Lonnie Mack's He's So
Fine were bringing a plagiarism suit against
Harrison. The plaintiffs alleged that Harrison’s
hit song was based on Mack’s earlier work,
which had been a chart-topping hit in 1963,
recorded by The Chiffons.
The ensuing legal battle played out over
many years. Although the exact determination
of damages—how much should be paid to
whom—remained in dispute for decades, a
1976 court judgment determined that an
infringement of copyright had indeed
occurred. The court agreed with the plaintiffs’
assertion that Harrison’s use of short repeated
musical phrases, or motifs, that were common
to both songs constituted infringement.
Although the two musical compositions
were in many ways differentiable from each
David Walske
David Walske, Inc.
[email protected]
<www.walske.com>
David Walske has over
twelve years of experience in
the software industry. As an
independent consultant, he
specializes in information
architecture and content
management. He has
developed single-source
solutions, online information
systems, and Web sites for
software, fashion, retail, and
publishing clients. David
teaches workshops in Help,
Web, and content authoring
tools. His client list includes
industry leaders such as
Microsoft, Symantec,
Xircom, LASTC, and UCLA.
David is a regular speaker at
events such as the
WinWriters Online Help
Conference, the Help
Technology Conference, the
STC Pan-Pacific conference,
and SingleSource
conferences. Quadralay
Software has named David a
Certified WebWorks Wizard.
107
CONTENT MANAGER’S NOTEBOOK
A Different Approach
Best selling author Seth
Godin has taken a somewhat
unconventional approach in
respect to preservation of
copyrights in his book,
Unleashing the Ideavirus.
Reminiscent of
Abbie Hoffman’s radical book
title, Steal this Book, the
opening pages of Godin’s
book encourage the reader
to, “Steal this idea!”
“An idea that just sits there
is worthless. But an idea that
moves and grows and infects
everyone it touches… that’s
an ideavirus. In the old days,
there was a limit on how
many people you could feed
with the corn from your farm
or the widgets from your
factory. But ideas not only
replicate easily and well,
they get more powerful and
more valuable as you deliver
them to more people.” (p.3)
—Seth Godin
Unleashing the Ideavirus
Seth Godin
Hyperion
NY:2001
ISBN: 0786887176
other, the inclusion of the common motifs
provided sufficient grounds for the court to
rule against Harrison and his associates. Viewing this case in the context of the world of
online information and structured content, it
is not difficult to draw a parallel. The musical
motifs that became the basis of the decision
were shared sub-elements of the larger structure of both songs. This is really not all that
different in principle from the use of shared
elements across documents in multiple information databases.
Copyright
The concept of copyright began as a simple
idea: literally, “the right to make copies.” The
notion of protecting intellectual property dates
back at least as far as 18th century Britain, as is
evidenced by the Statute of Anne, dated April
10th, 1710, that states, “…the author of any
book… shall have the sole liberty of printing
and reprinting such book… for the term of
fourteen years….” In the United States, copyright can be traced back to 1776 as defined in
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United
States Constitution which states, “…the Congress shall have power… to promote the
progress of science and useful arts, by securing
for limited times to authors and inventors the
exclusive right to their respective writings and
discoveries.” It is generally understood today
that an author possesses copyright to his or her
own work beginning at the very instant it is
created, whether or not any formal or informal
actions are taken to secure that right. Of
course, proving and defending copyright can
be another matter entirely: potentially a matter
of serious and mortal consequence.
Ownership
The framers of the Constitution believed in
the importance of protecting intellectual property rights. Clearly, to encourage authors and
others to produce creative works, they needed
to grant them exclusive rights to such works.
In time, all copyrighted works enter the public
domain—by constitutional definition, copyrights are valid only for a limited time. The
copyright holder benefits through remuneration during a fair period of ownership, and
society at large benefits through enrichment by
creative works. Creative productivity is good
for both culture and commerce.
108
Who owns what?
Technical documentation, whether created by
direct employees or independent contractors,
generally falls into the category of “work-forhire.” This means that the company for which
the work is completed retains all rights of
intellectual property and all copyrights. In this
context of work-for hire, the term author refers
to the company, not the individual content
developer. As a documentation manager, you
likely look to a company legal department for
clarification on issues of intellectual property.
But even though the decisions behind such
clarifications may be out of your hands, as a
manager of content, it is vital that you understand such issues and how they play out in the
day-to-day world of information development.
Today’s copyright law affords authors full
copyright protection—that is, the rights to
make and distribute copies, create derivative
works, and publicly display or perform written
works—for the author’s life plus 70 years.
However, the simple concepts of copyright
envisioned by the founding fathers have grown
into a labyrinth of complexities. No longer a
matter of simply who is allowed to make a
copy, intellectual property concepts circumnavigate print, electronic, and subsidiary issues
and are further complicated by an increasingly
distributed electronic information base. As we
breach the intellectual corporate firewall to
reach out to a worldwide distributed knowledge base, understanding how to manage intellectual property rights at a more granular level
becomes necessary.
Digital Rights Management
Digital rights management (DRM) provides a
means for granular control of intellectual
property rights based both on generally applicable copyright laws and on contractual agreements defined by licensing. Your first
encounter with this concept may have come in
the form of an introduction to some kind of
DRM software application. Therefore, thinking of DRM solely from a tools perspective
might be tempting. But effective implementation of DRM—like content management
(CM)—requires careful consideration and
planning built upon a cumulative layered
approach, the final layer of which includes
software tools.
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CONTENT MANAGER’S NOTEBOOK
Effective DRM requires
♦ a well-defined intellectual property and
contract rights policy
♦ the technology to represent these rights
digitally
♦ the ability to tag and track content
granularly
♦ the software tools to apply DRM
technology
Because the underlying body of rights is likely
to vary widely as defined by each company’s
legal department, in this article I won’t speak
to the specifics of those rights but rather I’ll
focus on the technologies of tagging and tracking content for DRM. Issues of DRM may
also include those of patents, trade secrets, and
trademarks.
ISBN
No doubt you have come into contact with
ISBN (International Standard Book Number)
identifiers, perhaps without even realizing the
purpose or meaning of this system of identification. This standard has been in existence for
over 30 years and is used in the United States
and 158 other countries worldwide as a means
of positive identification for books and other
printed and electronic publications.
The 10-digit ISBN number, an ISO
(International Standards Organization) standard currently in transition to an expanded
13-digit format, provides a set of one billion
unique identifiers for cataloging an everexpanding worldwide collection of published
material. This collection is growing at the rate
of over 50,000 new titles per year. The
planned update to a 13-digit format will help
to ensure a continued supply of new, unique
ISBN numbers for assignment to future publications and makes the standard more compati-
Creative Commons
Concepts of copyright are necessarily absolute in their application. Copyrights are legally enforceable rights and therefore
should be expressed as clearly and unambiguously as possible. An author may or may not decide to claim copyright to a given
work, but such a claim is implicitly granted nonetheless.
An author can choose to retain or sell some or all of the copyrights to a given work. Or an author can choose to renounce
all copyrights, placing a work immediately into the public domain for the greater good. But these choices are rather disparate.
What if an author wants to distribute works free of charge, contributing them as objects of culture rather than of commerce
but without giving up all rights of control?
Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organization that promotes a moderate approach somewhere between “All rights
reserved,” and “Steal this idea.” This organization proposes a “spectrum of rights” that authors can mix and match in multiple
combinations to express a degree of retention of rights to their works. The Creative Commons logo—displayed in the works of
authors using this type of licensing—declares, “Some rights reserved.”
The “attribution” right specifies that those who reuse content so marked
must credit the original author. By the way, Creative Commons is the author
of the graphic to the left of this text.
The “noncommercial” right specifies that content so marked must not be
reused for commercial purposes without specific authorization from the original author.
The “no derivative works” right specifies that content so marked may only be
used intact and in its entirety unless the author has agreed otherwise.
The “share alike” right specifies that all of the rights stipulated in content so
marked must also be stipulated in the work of those who reuse it.
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
109
CONTENT MANAGER’S NOTEBOOK
ble with the 13-digit EAN-UCC international
product coding system of bar codes. See Figure
1. ISBN will continue to support existing tendigit numbers by prefixing them with an EAN
number 978. The EAN number used in standard bar code numbers specifies the type of
product represented in the bar code, in this
instance: books. For example the existing tendigit ISBN 0-349840-23-1 becomes ISBN
978-0-349840-23-1. When the 13-digit format is officially adopted in 2005, new ISBN
numbers will be prefixed with an EAN number of 979, effectively doubling the total of all
possible ISBN numbers to two billion.
Each hyphenated segment of the ISBN represents a
specific type of identifying information.
The check digit is used as a checksum to avoid errors in transmission
of the ISBN. A specific mathematical formula is applied to all but the
last digit. The numerical result of that calculation is assigned to the
final digit of the number: the check digit. If, after the ISBN has been
transmitted, the formula returns the same value as before, then the
ISBN has been sent and received without error.
Figure 1. A standard 10-digit ISBN represented as a 13-digit bar code.
When words collide
A personal note from the
author
Intellectual property
ownership has become
somewhat of a controversial
issue. Major media interests
seek to gain control over the
content they produce and
deliver. Opponents of this
viewpoint seek a world in
which content is more an
element of culture than it is a
product of commerce. They
favor more open access and
oppose enhancement of
intellectual property
ownership rights and
technologies. It is not my
intent in this article to take
either side in this debate but
rather to present information
about the current state of
digital rights management
technologies. You can find
links to additional
information on both sides of
this issue at
<www.walske.com>.
110
The ISBN system has proven to be a reliable
system for tagging and tracking intellectual
property. Bar code system software and peripheral hardware components are used to successfully manage virtually all published content of
every type and format, from publication
through distribution and beyond; a Herculean
task to say the least. But does the ISBN standard satisfy our previously stated set of DRM
requirements? It does, with one exception.
ISBN numbers identify content at the book or
volume level. Our need for tagging and tracking of intellectual property demands a much
finer granularity.
DOI
The DOI (Digital Object Identifier) system
provides a method of granular tagging and
tracking of intellectual property. DOI does not
supplant the ISBN system but rather is auxiliary to and compatible with it. The International DOI Foundation (IDF), created in
1998 to support the needs of the intellectual
property community in the digital environment, is participating in the ISO Working
Group for the ISBN revision project.
DOI numbers are an implementation of
the URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) standard and are used as a method of persistent
interoperable identification of intellectual
property at all levels of granularity in physical,
digital, and abstract forms. DOI is fully com-
patible with and expressible within XML
(EXtensible Markup Language).
The DOI number format combines a prefix and suffix to create a unique identifier. See
Figure 2. All DOI numbers begin with 10,
which declares that the number is a DOI. This
is not uncommon in unique numeric identifiers--all VisaВ® credit card numbers begin with 4
and all Master CardВ® numbers begin with 5.
The remaining numbers in the prefix, assigned
by the IDF, identify the intellectual property
owner—a publishing house, record company,
software publisher, or other organization. An
organization may have more than one prefix.
The suffix is assigned by the intellectual property owner organization and can be any alphanumeric string of any length. The IDF
Directory server resolves the entire DOI alphanumeric string to a specific digital resource.
Because both the DOI prefix and suffix
can be of any length, there are an unlimited
number of possible DOI numbers, precluding
the need for future expansion projects of the
type currently in progress to extend the ISBN
standard. And because DOI numbers are
opaque—that is, the numbers are meaningless
until resolved to a digital identifier, such as a
Web address or other resource—they are persistent and always provide current information. The DOI number remains static once
BEST PRACTICES • AUGUST 2003
CONTENT MANAGER’S NOTEBOOK
Figure 2. The IDF Directory server resolves DOI numbers to a specific digital resource.
assigned, but the information it represents is
updated as necessary.
XrML
EXtensible Rights Markup Language (XrML)
is an XML-based language specification for
expressing intellectual property rights associated with digital content and other digital
resources. XrML has been submitted for consideration as an official standard and is likely
to be accepted as such toward the end of 2003.
There are several advantages to using
XrML. Of course, it fulfills our stated DRM
requirements, but beyond that, because it is
native XML, using XrML includes all of the
advantages of XML, such as precision, extensibility, interoperability, and security to name
but a few. Some software publishers, such as
Microsoft for example, have already standardized on XrML. The XrML model views DRM
in terms of grants. In essence, an XrML grant
is a sentence in which the intellectual property
owner specifies who may take what action with
what object under what circumstances. See
Table 1.
Principle
Subject
David Walske
Right
Verb
may edit
Resource
Object
article.xml
Condition
Modifier
until August 1, 2003.
Table 1. XrML grant “parts of speech”
A principle is an identified party, authenticated
by one or more secure methods. A right is a
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
verb that describes an action that the principle
has been granted permission to perform, such
as view, copy, or loan. A resource is an identifiable digital object of any kind. A condition is
the expression of the terms of the grant, typically a limitation of some kind, often a measure of time. An XrML grant uses a specific
XML code syntax to authenticate users and
then grant specific rights as defined by the policy of the intellectual property owner.
Keys to Successful Content
Management
The expanding reach of technology continues
to shrink our world. Information that was
once occult has become freely available to all
those who care to partake, opening up new vistas of shared knowledge and information. But
to successfully share information in such an
open environment, we must be very clear
about our actions and intentions and respect
intellectual property ownership. And we must
be able to swap information with total strangers confident not only in the veracity of the
information we receive but also in the security
of the transaction by which we receive it. In
this article, I provide a brief glimpse into some
of the underlying principles and technologies
that can be put into play by executing a wellconsidered and carefully planned DRM system. Creating a secure interoperable environment that promotes the untrammeled
exchange of information is one of the keys to
successful content management.
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TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
T O O L S
A N D
T E C H N O L O G Y
The Growth of ASP Content Management
John Girard, CEO, Clickability
John Girard
CEO
Clickability, Inc.
[email protected]
112
structure remotely. The next logical step: why
The content-management space has followed a
not contract with the software developer
predictable trajectory as far as enterprise softdirectly to maintain the infrastructure and
ware goes. Several early market entrants grew
software? Who would know better than the
to take a large share of the market. And in the
developer how to optimize the solution?
past few years, newcomers have exploded,
With this insight, the ASP was born.
leading now to inevitable industry consolidation.
The first ASPs, then, were simply compaOutside the traditional drivers in the
nies that delivered business applications (often
enterprise software market, though, a larger
mission-critical) over the Web. All the applicaindustry pressure looms that has the potential
tion logic and data in an ASP is stored at the
to change not just how content management,
vendor’s data center. ASP customers access all
but how enterprise software, more generally is
application functions over the Web, typically
purchased and deployed. This pressure comes
using nothing more than the Web
from the unlikely resurgence
browser. No software to install, no
of a kind of business thought
hardware to install, and no mainteto have been wiped out by the
nance—not a bad proposition!
“…a larger
collapse of Web businesses
industry
Core-Business and the ASP
over the last few years: the ASP
business justification of the
(Application Service Provider).
pressure looms The
ASP model is straightforward and
It turns out, as the old
that has the
would be recognizable even to busisaying goes, that rumors of the
ness thinkers from a century ago. At
death of the ASP model have
potential to
its simplest, the ASP model plays on
been greatly exaggerated. To
change …how
the fundamental tension between
understand how the ASP
core- and non-core business funcmodel is poised to shake up
enterprise
tions. Most businesses, so the reathe world of content managesoftware more
soning goes, are very good at only a
ment, a little background on
small handful of business functions.
the ASP phenomenon is
generally is
This group of functions is the “core
important.
purchased and business” and anything not related
The Birth of a New
directly to the core business may be
deployed.”
a good candidate for outsourcing to
Business Model
another company. (“Your back
As the Web exploded, people
office is someone else’s front office”
first began to think seriously
is a saying that conveys that idea neatly.)
about alternatives to traditional software delivTo take a business school approach to the
ery. Firms like EDS had pioneered indepenquestion, let’s examine a turn-of-the-century
dently “managed” software solutions, but that
newspaper publisher as an example. What is
entailed little more than changing the physical
the publisher’s core business? Early newspaper
location of the installed software. Servers and
publishers saw their core business as “creating a
software licenses still had to be purchased, softnewspaper.” In this context, it made sense for
ware had to be installed and configured, and
the publisher to build and maintain a printing
there were significant ongoing maintenance
press and perhaps even have a hand in creating
costs to keep the infrastructure up and runthe raw materials (paper and ink). But no one
ning.
The Web offered a shift in this paradigm.
would expect the publisher to own the forest
or lumber mills that are instrumental in turnLarge enterprises were comfortable contracting
ing trees to paper—both are too far removed
with outside firms to manage their entire IT
from the core business and so are outsourced.
infrastructure (often off-site) and typically
gave individual employees access to that infra-
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TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
Soon, some publishers realized that they
weren’t really in the business of creating newspapers after all. They were actually in the business of creating content. And so they focused
on that core business, building impressive
news staffs and editorial services and beginning to outsource the non-core business—by
contracting with independent printers and distributors for the delivery of the final product.
And finally, some newspapers eventually
realized they weren’t really in the content business at all. Rather, they were in the business of
aggregating local audiences to sell to local
advertisers. So, they outsourced the non-core
functions of printing (to independent printers)
and even much of the content creation (to
content syndicators like the Associated Press
and Reuters) and focused efforts on the core
business of selling newspaper ads.
ASPs look for similar dynamics in the
markets they serve. When does an industry’s
business shift in such a way that certain information technology functions are no longer
core? I’ll answer that question with regard to
Web content management in just a minute.
ASP, Hosted Applications,
MSP—Different Terms, Same Idea
Between 1998 and 2000, ASPs attracted a lot
of attention. The proposed benefits were staggering: dramatically lower total cost of ownership and a single monthly fee that
encompassed hardware, software, maintenance
and service. Venture money poured into startups pursuing the ASP model.
And then the bottom dropped out. As the
capital markets collapsed, ASPs that had not
yet achieved enough momentum to support
operations independent of their venture capital
lifeline disappeared overnight. For customers
of many ASPs, the unthinkable happened as
mission critical data was wiped out or locked
up during lengthy bankruptcy proceedings. I
know one CEO who flew to San Francisco,
marched up to the (mostly empty) offices of an
ASP where much of his company’s billing
information was stored, and didn’t leave until
he had the data he needed on a floppy disk in
his briefcase.
In the blink of an eye, ASP became a bad
word, virtually synonymous with the over-exuberance of the dot.com era.
But even a basic analysis of the economics
underlying the software industry revealed to a
lot of people that the ASP model is quite
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
sound, and so the experimentation has gone
on quietly in the last few years.
While the central tenets of the model persisted, the name ASP was dropped like a hot
potato in favor of such terms as hosted software, MSP (Managed Service Provider), and
most recently Software-as-a-Service. At the
core, of course, all of these terms really mean
the same thing—someone else besides the enduser (or his or her company) is responsible for
maintaining the infrastructure required to
deliver the software.
The New ASP Pioneers
Largely because of the different terms that are
used to describe hosted software solutions, an
awful lot of activity is happening across many
different categories of enterprise class software
that has stayed below the radar.
For instance, with as much noise as a
company like SalesForce.com has made in the
sales force automation (SFA) and customer
relationship management (CRM) space, it’s
only now attracting the interest of the press as
an example of how the ASP model can be successfully applied to a well-established enterprise software category.
And while the SFA and CRM spaces have
provided fertile ground for companies like
SalesForce.com (and the followers it has created), it turns out that there are plenty of other
categories of enterprise software that are well
suited for vendors interested in deploying ASP
solutions. One of the most interesting categories in this respect is Web content management.
Hosted Content Management Basics
It can be argued that, of all the categories of
enterprise software, Web content-management
software is the one best suited for delivery in a
hosted format.
First, in most industries, Web content
management tends to pass the usual tests in
evaluating core versus non-core business functions with flying colors. Even traditional media
companies publishing on the Web, for example, increasingly look at their core businesses as
“creating content” and not “creating a Web
site.” The printing press analogy is a good one
here—once it becomes clear what is core and
what is not, the non-core is most likely fated
for outsourcing.
With Web content management, hosted
(ASP) solutions are simply the most efficient
and elegant way to outsource the function.
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TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
A hosted Web content-management system usually looks no different to the end-user
(the everyday site administrator or editor, for
instance) than an installed solution. Many
applications in the enterprise today have Web
browser (or browser-like) interfaces. And
because of the efficiencies of the Internet, it
doesn’t really matter to the user whether the
program driving that interface is next door or
across the country.
In some ways then, the hosted versus
installed question is more semantic than anything. A CTO I know is fond of saying “in the
end, all enterprise software is �hosted.’ The
only question is who is doing the hosting.”
The Real Benefits of a Hosted CMS
There are two primary ways that hosted Web
CMSs are deployed in the enterprise today: as
a platform for the entire Web content-management infrastructure and as a complement to an
existing Web CMS installation.
The benefits of the “platform” approach
to a Web CMS are just what might be
expected of an outsourced provider. Chiefly,
because maintaining a sophisticated Web
CMS platform is a hosted CMS vendor’s core
business, a good vendor is typically able to
deliver a much higher quality service than the
equivalent function run in-house.
Put it this way: if your company’s Web
site goes down, the rest of the company keeps
going. If all of a Web CMS vendor’s customer
sites go down, that vendor is in big trouble.
Because hosting a Web content management
solution is the vendor’s core business, that vendor is likely to be more concerned about getting the job done right. Indeed, the business’s
very existence depends on it.
The cost differences between hosted and
installed Web CMS solutions can be enormous
too, especially when considering one of the
biggest efficiencies gained in this kind of
deployment: it becomes possible for a business
to have access to all the benefits of a scalable,
robust platform running a high-performance,
enterprise-class CMS application while paying
for only a fraction of the retail costs of those
benefits. Returning to our printing press analogy, it becomes possible for a company to pay,
say, 1/20th the total cost for a top-of-the-line
printing press and have (time limited) access to
100 percent of the machine. (1/20th of a
printing press wouldn’t be very useful would
it?)
114
The upshot here is that clients of ASP
content-management vendors can effectively
“rent” some space on a network that would
otherwise cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build—for prices as low as $1,000 per
month.
The second way that enterprises use
hosted content-management systems these
days is to complement existing CMS implementations. For instance, for a variety of reasons many of the installed CMS solutions lack
even basic support for email newsletters.
Meanwhile, most hosted Web CMS vendors
provide built-in support for email newsletters,
and, as a result, many organizations that are
not ready to make a full platform switch elect
to use hosted CMS platforms that support
email newsletters as a complement to their
existing Web CMS applications.
The beauty of hosted solutions is that
they typically integrate very well with existing
Web CMSs and can add functionality at very
reasonable price points.
Thinking Long Term
Even the big software companies are beginning
to share a vision of a world where software
looks more like a utility and less like a locally
installed and managed application. Over the
long term, these experts argue, we will treat
applications the way we treat electricity or
(perhaps more aptly) pay television—we simply plug into the wall and are charged by how
much of the service we use.
Companies like Microsoft, Intuit, and
IBM have begun to experiment with this kind
of software delivery, in at least some part
because of the success of upstart ASP companies that have captured significant share in big
enterprise software segments at alarming rates.
SFA and CRM are two related spaces where a
lot of the early battles have been fought. The
recent surge in the success of hosted contentmanagement vendors suggests that it will be
one of the next categories to embrace the ASP.
Regardless of what is happening at the
industry level, though, any organization that is
thinking critically about content management
needs to seriously consider hosted content
management. Through an insource the core
and outsource the non-core evaluation, many
companies will find that going with an ASP for
Web content management will help keep Web
costs extremely low and keep the business
focused on the elements that ultimately drive
long-term success.
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TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
T O O L S
A N D
T E C H N O L O G Y
Enabling Language Translation with XML Tools and
Standards
Bryan Schnabel, XML Information Architect, Tektronix, Inc. with Gail Toft-Vizzini, ed.
Maintaining consistency between a source
document and its translated counterparts can
be complex and troublesome. Innumerable
challenges can arise with character sets, version
control, text in graphics, tables, expansion of
text, updates, and so on. Using XML for translation can help overcome some of these challenges.
In this article, I explain how XML tools
and standards can help remedy tricky issues
related to translation.
The Traditional Approaches
Typically, each of these approaches has to grapple with content and format being intertwined.
XML is a Natural Migration
Many companies have implemented XML to
make their documentation process more efficient. Their motives usually include
♦ efficient layout
♦ single sourcing
♦ automation
♦ data exchange
Because the challenge of translating documentation is not new, there are a number of tradi♦ e-commerce
tional approaches. With the traditional
♦ customer requirements
approaches, the content to be translated is
embedded in a desktop publishing, word pro♦ government requirements
cessing, or graphic illustration
XML can be a key to solving diffisoftware product. One of two
culties associated with translation
things typically happens.
Either the translator must
“XML can be a because it effectively separates content from format and enables the
translate the content in the
key to solving
translator to focus on the translasoftware product, or custom
tion, not the software package the
programming must be done to
difficulties
content is embedded in.
perform a kind of automated
associated with
XML offers operating system
text extraction and post-translation recomposition.
translation….” independence (Mac, Linux, Unix,
Windows). Usually, authors write
Three traditional
in their word processing or desktop
approaches to translation are
publishing software of choice. If the translator
♦ a supplier uses a potentially complex deskneeds to translate the content on a different
top publishing or graphics tool for layout
operating system, a potential risk of data coror uses a custom text extraction and
ruption arises when the characters are moved
recomposition tool
from one operating system to the next. XML is
operating system neutral, thereby mitigating
♦ an in-house localization department uses
this risk.
a potentially complex desktop publishing
A similar risk exists when the author and
or graphics tool for layout or uses a custranslator use different software packages. The
tom text extraction and recomposition
author might use his favorite word processing
tool
or desktop publishing software. Or a graphics
♦ a hapless document writer uses a cut-andillustrator might use her favorite graphics softpaste method to piece together a transware. The files might then be saved or filtered
lated document
into a different package for the translator.
XML is vendor independent, thereby mitigating this risk as well.
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
Bryan Schnabel
XML Information Architect
Tektronix, Inc.
[email protected]
exgate.tek.com
Bryan Schnabel is the XML
Information Architect for
Tektronix, Inc. As a world leader
in test, measurement, and
monitoring, Tektronix is one of
the principal players in enabling
the coming together of
computers and communications.
Bryan is a seasoned XML
practitioner. He embraces XML
as a portable, scalable platform
and vendor-independent means
to best utilize and protect a
company’s valuable data. Upon
completing his Bachelor of
Science and Master’s degree at
Central Michigan University,
Bryan began information
architecting for the automotive
industry. He began solving
problems with standards-based
technology early on, first with
SGML, then with XML. His
accomplishments include
serving on the J2008
Automotive Standard
Committee, being the Detroit
Director of the Midwest SGML
Forum, establishing and
directing the OregonXML
Forum, and serving on the
OASIS XLIFF Technical
Committee.
115
TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
XML has universal character support. It is
based in Unicode, which becomes very useful
once translation is required in non-Latin characters.
XML has standards-based facilities for
manipulating content, like XSL, XSLT, and
XPath, and standards-based facilities for
enforcing structure, like XML schema and
DTDs.
When XML is used for translation it can
♦ reduce the number of steps in the translation process
♦ help translators zero-in on the work they
have to do
♦ make it easier to update translations when
the source changes
All these benefits can result in cost and timeto-market savings for the translation process.
And an XML solution, because it is standards-based, is a portable, scaleable solution.
Applying XML to Images
XML provides an excellent way of describing
and modeling data. That model and description can be processed by a computer to produce desirable effects. Consider the following
simple XML as a way to model or mark up an
image.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<ImageFile>
<Circle id="c1" size="2in"
brdr="off" fill="red" loc="ctr" />
<TextBox>
<PositionRelation
CenterTo-id="c1" OffsetXdim="0"
OffsetYdim="0" />
<text id="t1">This is the picture
on my ski</text>
</TextBox>
</ImageFile>
You see that metadata provides detail about the
geometry of the elements that could be used to
create an image. You also see that the string of
text is marked up as content in the <text> element.
Graphics software designed to process
XML might render the previous code example
like the image in Figure 1.
116
Figure 1. If graphics software could render
XML
XML could be used to model data that
could be processed by graphics software. It is
also reasonable to expect that XML could be
used to model data that could be easily processed by software designed for translators.
Consider the following simple example.
The previous graphic image XML file could be
transformed through XSLT to a format more
easily processed by translation tools. The goal
of this XML format is to isolate and preserve
the hierarchy data from the translator and
present text in a useful, accessible way to the
translator.
<TransDoc>
<Wrap name="Circle" Watt1="c1"
Watt2="2in" Watt3="off"
Watt4="red" Watt5="ctr">
<Wrap name="TextBox" trans-unitref="t1">
<Meta name="PositionRelation"
at1="c1" at2="0" at3="0" />
</Wrap>
</Wrap>
<trans-unit idref="t1">
<source lang="en">This is the picture on my ski</source>
<target lang="de">This is the picture on my ski</target>
</trans-unit>
</TransDoc>
The metadata preserves the detail about the
geometry of the elements that were used by the
graphic image XML. The string of text is
marked up as content in the <trans-unit>
element. In this case, the string is presented in
a way that could be made available to a translator. A source string is provided in the
<source> element (“This is the picture on my
ski”), along with an attribute that says the
source language is English. The target string is
BEST PRACTICES • AUGUST 2003
TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
provided in the <target> element, along with
an attribute that prescribes the target language
to be German (de).
The translator would be shielded from the
hierarchy data and would edit only the target
text string.
<TransDoc>
<Wrap name="Circle" Watt1="c1"
Watt2="2in" Watt3="off"
Watt4="red" Watt5="ctr">
<Wrap name="TextBox" trans-unitref="t1">
<Meta name="PositionRelation"
at1="c110" at2="0" at3="0" />
</Wrap>
</Wrap>
<trans-unit idref="t1">
<source lang="en">This is the picture on my ski</source>
<target lang="de">Dieses ist die
Abbildung auf meinem Ski</target>
</trans-unit>
</TransDoc>
An XSL (eXtensible Stylesheet Language)
transformation could be applied to get the
translated text back into the
image format.
<?xml version="1.0"
encoding="utf-8"?>
<ImageFile>
<Circle id="c1"
size="2in" brdr="off"
fill="red" loc="ctr" />
<TextBox>
<PositionRelation
CenterTo-id="c1" OffsetXdim="0" OffsetYdim="0" />
<text id="t1">Dieses
ist die Abbildung auf
meinem
Figure 2. If graphics software could render
translated XML
These homegrown document types could
be made to work, but it might cause a problem
down the road. That is to say, with joint development and customization, Company A and
Translation Vendor A might develop a way to
use the homegrown ImageFile and TransDoc
document types. But what if Company A
needs to work with Translation Vendor B?
Almost certainly there would need to be more
development and more training to get everyone up to speed on the custom document
types.
“…industry
standards
…facilitate
efficiency,
portability,
and
interchangeability.”
Ski</text>
The Value of XML
Standard Doctypes
Today, there are a couple of
industry-standard document
types that provide the means to
enable language translation in
graphics files using XML tools
and standards:
♦ Scalable Vector Graphics
(SVG)
♦ eXtensible Localisation
Interchange File Format
(XLIFF)
Some advantages come with using XML:
</TextBox>
♦ content separated from format
</ImageFile>
♦ universal character support (UTF)
Then, the graphics software could render the
same image, only this time it would have
translated text, as shown in Figure 2.
While the previous example made use of
XML and XML tools, it also made use of
“home-grown” XML document types called
ImageFile and TransDoc.
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
♦ no dependency on proprietary formats
And by using industry standards for translation, you gain advantages because the standards facilitate efficiency, portability, and
interchangeability.
117
TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
What Exactly are SVG and XLIFF?
Strictly speaking, SVG and XLIFF are XML
applications, complete with validating DTDs
or XML schemas. Therefore, each can be
transformed with XML tools that implement
XML standards, like XSLT and XPath.
SVG is a language for describing twodimensional graphics in XML. SVG allows for
three types of graphic objects: vector graphic
shapes, images, and text. Graphical objects can
be grouped, styled, transformed, and composited into previously rendered objects.
SVG has several strengths worth noting:
♦ It is a World Wide Web Consortium standard.
♦ It is an XML document.
♦ It is a nonproprietary image format.
♦ SVG can be opened, manipulated, and
saved in popular graphics packages like
Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, and Visio.
♦ SVG can be processed with XML tools
and standards.
♦ SVG can be viewed in a browser.
XLIFF (XML Localization Interchange File
Format) defines a specification for an extensible localization interchange format that will
allow any software provider to produce a single
interchange format that can be delivered to
and understood by any localization service
provider. The format is tool-independent,
standardized, and supports the entire localization process.
XLIFF has several strengths worth noting:
♦ It is a standard of OASIS (Organization
for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards).
♦ It is an XML document.
♦ It is a nonproprietary document format.
♦ XLIFF can be opened, manipulated, and
saved in popular XML packages like
ArborText, XML Spy, and NotePad.
♦ XLIFF is being developed by translators,
tool vendors, and documentation experts.
♦ Tools in a translator's toolbox will be
XLIFF compliant.
The XML Round Trip
To use XML tools and standards to enable language translation, a round trip of the content
occurs.
With an admittedly not-so-trivial upfront
development, the nuts and bolts are pretty
straightforward. Each step below corresponds
with the number in the diagram. See Figure 3.
1 The image is created in a graphics software package (example, Adobe Illustrator). The file is saved as SVG.
2 An XSLT script is invoked that transforms
the SVG XML instance to an XLIFF
XML instance.
3 The XLIFF is delivered to the translation
vendor. The translation vendor uses its
XLIFF-enabled tools to translate the text
(optionally having the capability to view
the SVG for strings of text, in context).
The translation vendor returns the translated XLIFF instance.
4 An XSLT script is invoked that transforms
the translated XLIFF XML instance back
to an SVG XML instance.
5 The translated image file is maintained
and saved as an SVG XML instance.
Using SVG and XLIFF for
Translation: An Example
The following image was created in Adobe
Illustrator and saved as SVG. See Figure 4.
Figure 3. XML Roundtrip
118
BEST PRACTICES • AUGUST 2003
TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
Here’s a snip of the SVG XML code:
<switch i:knockout="Off"
i:objectNS="&ns_flows;" i:objectType="pointText">
<foreignObject requiredExtensions="&ns_flows;" x="0" y="0"
width="1" height="1" overflow="visible"><flowDef
xmlns="&ns_flows;">
<region><path
d="M127.89,175.478"/></
region><flow xmlns="&ns_flows;"
font-family="'Helvetica-Condensed'" font-size="9" textalign="center" text-alignlast="center">
<p><span>Processor board assembly</span></p>
</flow>
</flowDef>
<x:targetRef
xlink:href="#XMLID_1_" /></foreignObject>
Figure 4. Sample of Line Art saved as SVG
<text id="XMLID_1_" transform="matrix(1 0 0 1 80.6636
175.4775)"><tspan x="0" y="0"
font-family="'Helvetica-Condensed'" font-size="9">
Processor board assembly</
tspan></text>
</switch>
The second step is to transform the SVG to
XLIFF. Figure 5 shows the transformed XML,
as it looks in Arbortext Epic, with simple
screen styling.
The strings of text are presented to the translator. In its untranslated state, the source and
target elements contain matching English text.
The third step is for the translation vendor to translate the target strings, as shown in
Figure 6. The XML tool could be adapted to
display translated strings in a different style or
color for the convenience of the translator.
The fourth step is to transform the translated XLIFF XML instance to an SVG XML
instance.
Here’s a snip of the SVG XML code, with
the text stings translated to French:
Figure 5. Untranslated XLIF
<switch i:knockout="Off"
i:objectNS="&ns_flows;" i:objectType="pointText">
<foreignObject requiredExtensions="&ns_flows;" x="0" y="0"
width="1" height="1" over-
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
Figure 6. Translated XLIF
119
TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
flow="visible"><flowDef
xmlns="&ns_flows;">
<region><path
d="M127.89,175.478"/></
region><flow xmlns="&ns_flows;"
font-family="'Helvetica-Condensed'" font-size="9" textalign="center" text-alignlast="center">
<p><span>Panneau de processeur</
span></p>
</flow>
</flowDef>
<x:targetRef
xlink:href="#XMLID_1_" /></foreignObject>
<text id="XMLID_1_" transform="matrix(1 0 0 1 80.6636
175.4775)"><tspan x="0" y="0"
font-family="'Helvetica-Condensed'" font-size="9">
Panneau de processeur</tspan></
text>
</switch>
Conclusion
Translating documentation will always be a
tricky process. Documentation groups continue to improve processes, tools, and workflows. Content-management systems, be they
a straightforward use of high-end software
packages or optimized workflow practices, are
continuously being refined to meet the translation challenge. Translation operations are
maturing and improving, developing practices
and tools, such as translation memory, to take
on the unique dimensions that language translation brings to the table.
The choice of XML makes tools and standards more successful. Using standards that
reflect the experience and expertise from a
number of connected industries is a terrific
start, but casting the standard in XML brings
additional efficiency. The input of the group
brings robustness and strength to the standard,
while the use of XML provides portability,
scalability, universality, and stability to the
process of managing documentation.
The SVG could then be viewed in the graphics
software or in the browser. See Figure 7.
120
BEST PRACTICES • AUGUST 2003
BOOK REVIEW
B O O K
R E V I E W
What’s in The Rise of the Creative Class for Technical
Communicators?
Jean Richardson, Consultant, BJR Communications
Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class:
And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life has taken the US economic development industry by storm. This
professor of Regional Economic Development
at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, entered the discussion of “what
now?” and “what next?” as the high-tech stock
market was making its rough ride to the bottom and America was reconsidering its deconstruction of the military/industrial complex in
favor of consumer products. His fresh writing
style and data-driven analysis appeal both to
the armchair economist and the popular culture watcher.
His thesis? There is a significant contingent in the 18 to 35-year-old demographic
that is quietly having a large impact on the
future of the development of products and
ideas in this country, and their potential to
shape our culture is just beginning to be
revealed. If properly identified as one of our
richest natural resources and employed in the
context of economic recovery, this resource,
which is flocking to certain locales throughout
the country, has the vitality and promise we are
looking for in the current recession.
Why is recognizing this contingent
important to managers of knowledge generation and management functions? Because the
creative class that Florida describes is largely
composed of people in these functions. He
looks at how their values, level of self-direction, portability, and social mores impact
attracting, retaining, and applying their talents
from a regional standpoint. He also discusses
how their lifestyles and work styles coalesce
and how they are motivated—largely by their
curiosity and opportunities to express their
creativity. His analysis of their sometimes surprisingly conservative values, preference for
loosely coupled relationships, and focus on
place is peppered with numerous insights into
working with and motivating these valuable
human resources.
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
In summary, this 404-page book, with
index, covers the topic in four parts and 15
chapters. Appendices beginning on page 327
show the cities and various indices he uses in
evaluating certain locations’ attractions for this
class of worker.
Part One: The Creative Age
These three chapters provide the obligatory,
and somewhat scholarly, backward glance to
give context for the rest of the discussion. This
is great reading if you are interested in economic and social history, as I am. In Chapter
Four, Florida explains his working definition
of “creative class” and how it relates to similar
analyses of work culture by other scholars:
The rise of the Creative Economy has had
a profound effect on the sorting of people
into social groups or classes. Others have
speculated over the years on the rise of
new classes in the advanced industrial
economies. During the 1960s, Peter
Drucker and Fritz Machlup described the
growing role and importance of the new
group of workers they dubbed “knowledge workers.” Writing in the 1970s,
Daniel Bell pointed to a new, more meritocratic class structure of scientists, engineers, managers, and administrators
brought on by the shift from a manufacturing to a “postindustrial” economy. The
sociologist Erik Olin Wright has written
for decades about the rise of what he
called a new “professional-managerial”
class. Robert Reich more recently
advanced the term “symbolic analysts” to
describe the members of the workforce
who manipulate ideas and symbols. All of
these observers caught economic aspects
of the emerging class structure that I
describe here. (p. 67)
Jean Richardson
Consultant
BJR Communications
[email protected]
www.bjrcom.com
Jean Richardson is a
communication consultant in
private practice. She focuses
on hardware, software, and
Web-development. She is a
past president of the
Willamette Valley Chapter of
the Society for Technical
Communication in Portland,
Oregon, as well as a Better
Business Bureau Arbitrator,
and a Multnomah County
Court Mediator. With her
associate, Lisa Burk, she
trains other technical
professionals on conflict
management skills.
Part Two: Work
This section begins to cover the social and cultural differences between the creative class,
their parents, and their peers—including what
121
BOOK REVIEW
may be a few surprises. In a section on managing creativity, Florida discusses human
resource management strategies as they have
emerged in high-tech companies. Then, he
makes an interesting observation:
And these practices offered one great efficiency to firms—and one incredible
advantage to capitalism—which ultimately assured their further diffusion.
They enabled firms and the economy as a
whole to capture the creative talents of
people who would have been considered
oddballs, eccentrics or worse during the
high period of the organizational age.
Richard Lloyd quotes the founder of one
of the Chicago high-tech firms studied as
saying: “Lots of people who fell between
the cracks in another generation and who
were more marginalized are [now] highly
employable and catered to by businesses
that tend to be flexible with their lifestyles
and lifecycles.” (p. 140)
And later, he makes some observations about
managing creativity in high-tech companies
that may not surprise you:
We selected an edgy high-tech company
as the venue for our workshop and invited
two of their top executives to join in the
discussion…. As we got further into it,
the two high-tech executives began to
chime in with their views, which essentially amounted to a high-tech version of
“management by stress”—working people as long and as hard as they could
stand. It quickly became clear to the
group that these two did not have the foggiest idea of how to motivate or even treat
creative people, let alone build an effective
and enduring organizational culture.
(p. 142)
Part Three: Life and Leisure
In section three, composed of two chapters
“The Experiential Life” and “The Big Morph
(a Rant),” Florida goes deeper into how lifestyle and work intersect in the creative economy. In the first chapter, Florida describes the
kind of experientially rich communities and
workplaces members of the creative class tend
to choose. In the second chapter, Florida discusses the tension between the Protestant work
ethic and the bohemian ethic that the creative
class successfully embodies. While this chapter
is, indeed, a rant, it is also a good read:
122
What happened instead was neither sixties
nor eighties, neither bourgeois nor bohemian, but the opening of a path to something new. The great cultural legacy of the
sixties, as it turned out, was not Woodstock after all, but something that had
evolved at the other end of the continent.
It was Silicon Valley. This place in the
very heart of the San Francisco Bay area
became the proving ground for the new
ethos of creativity. If work could be made
more aesthetic and experiential; if it could
be spiritual and “useful” in the poetic
sense rather than in the duty-bound sense;
if the organizational strictures and rigidity
of the old system could be transcended; if
bohemian values like individuality—
which also happens to be a tried-and-true
all-American value—could be brought to
the workplace, then we could move
beyond the old categories. (p. 202)
It is worthwhile to note here that Florida
spends basically no time looking at how this
idealism contributed to the rise and fall of the
dot-bombs.
Part Four: Community
In this section, Florida talks about the importance of place to this demographic—and to
creative workпЈ§and he talks about how a spirit
of tolerance acts almost as a cradle for creativity. He discusses creative class members’ preference for loosely coupled interpersonal
commitments rather than the tightly coupled
group affiliations of the previous generations’
sense of social capital and some of the implications of this change. This chapter may be the
most data-based in the book because he classifies hundreds of communities into Classic
Social Capital Communities, Organizational
Age Communities, Nerdistans, and Creative
Centers. Odds are, if you are living in a community of any size, you’ll find your community ranked in the related appendix. Even
Yakima, Washington, comes into the discussion.
In an industry where distributed and virtual teams are increasingly the norm, this focus
on place is particularly interesting. Many people have very strong feelings about the way
computer-mediated communication impacts
working relationships. In the section called
“The World of Weak Ties,” Florida states,
“Practically all of us have at least a few such
relationships. According to sociologists who
study networks, most people have and can
BEST PRACTICES • AUGUST 2003
BOOK REVIEW
manage between five and ten strong-tie relationships.” But, he counters, “weak ties are
often more important… research on social
networks has shown that weak ties are the key
mechanism for mobilizing resources, ideas,
and information, whether for finding a job,
solving a problem, launching a new product,
or establishing a new enterprise. A key reason
that weak ties are important is that we can
manage many more of them.” (p. 276—277)
This strategy of maintaining many weak ties to
facilitate creative connection is supported by
tools like contact databases, email, automatic
task reminder systems, and various remote
communication and collaboration technologies.
What If You’re Not
(Chronologically) a Kid Anymore?
Further, true to his creative class values, he
goes on to warn about emerging class divides.
America is far from a unified society….
The worsening divides in our society are
not merely a problem of social equity;
they are economically inefficient for the
nation as a whole…. Why, then, should
promoting creativity everywhere be a
main theme of our policies and our lives?
Why not focus on promoting some
attribute that seems to be more universally positive and beneficial—say, spiritual
growth, or civility? Wouldn’t that, over
the long run, make us better people who
can more wisely direct the creative
impulse that flows so naturally? My
answer is that of course, we should cultivate both of those virtues. But neither of
them is an economic force that increases
the resources with which we may do good
in the world. Creativity is. (p. 320—325)
Reference
The Rise of the Creative
Class: And How It’s
Transforming Work, Leisure,
Community and Everyday Life
Richard Florida
Basic Books
2002, New York, NY
ISBN: 0465024769
As the Biography page on Florida’s site at
CMU states, “He is widely regarded as one of
the most influential academics on the shift to
the new, knowledge economy and has spearManagers of knowledge workers in the current
headed national debates on industrial competieconomy, particularly managers of those worktiveness, high-technology
ers in high-tech companies, have
industries, and the globalization
seen their ranks drastically
of industry.” What about those
thinned. This downsizing is
“…those of us
of us over 35? While Florida conironic in the face of the compelcentrates on this demographic
ling argument that Florida details
who identify
through most of the book, the
in this book. But it is not surprisprimarily as
last chapter, “The Creative Class
ing when this book is read conGrows Up,” focuses on what
templatively.
writers have
needs to be done to ensure that
We knowledge workers, as a
never really
the creative class—the knowledge
class, don’t know who we are.
workers you may be managing
And those of us who identify pribeen able to
even now—is properly fostered
marily as writers have never really
characterize
in the US. Generally, building
been able to characterize our
wisdom seems to take time,
value to corporate America.
our value to
though the passage of time is far
Wherever there is a successful
corporate
from a guarantee of the developorganization, though, there are
ment of wisdom. The developwriters—perhaps they go by
America.”
ment of wisdom requires paying
other titles, but they are there.
attention, something that Florida
Preoccupied by our bohemian
believes this class of workers has
druthers, apologetic for our lack of eloquence
not done well.
in the face of bean counting skepticism about
our value, we bow and scrape by, often bowing
Vast numbers of Creative Class people are
out the door when the going gets tough for the
concerned mainly with building their
organization—never knowing that, increasresumes, building their bodies and acquiringly, we have spun the thread and woven the
ing the status kit of our age: a stylishly
cloth the corporation has made its expensive
renovated home with a Sub-Zero refrigersuit from.
ator, Viking stove and an SUV in the
I think Florida would point out downsizdrive. They naively assume that if they
ing
writers
as a critical lapse in business
take care of their own business, the rest of
sense—on
our
part, as much as the
the world will take care of itself and concorporation’s.
tinue to provide the environment they
need to prosper. (p. 316)
AUGUST 2003 • BEST PRACTICES
123
MANAGER’S CALENDAR
M A N A G E R ’ S
Please visit our Web site
<www.
infomanagementcenter.com>
for more information on these
and other events.
C A L E N D A R
ROI Competency Building
Workshop. August 21–22, 2003, Reston,
VA. September 2–3, 2003, Hampton, VA.
September 10–11, 2003, Nashville, TN. September 25–26, 2003, Alexandria, VA. Sponsored by the ASTD ROI Network.
<roi.astd.org/events/ROIWorkshops.aspx>
Minimalism: Creating Manuals
That People Will Use. August 26–27,
2003, Montreal, Canada. October 7–8, 2003,
Lexington, KY. November 6–7, 2003, Atlanta,
GA. Sponsored by Seminars in Usable Design.
Taught by JoAnn Hackos, PhD.
303-234-0123 <www.usabledesign.com>
Structured Writing for Single
Sourcing. September 9–10, 2003, Columbus, OH. September 16–17, 2003, San Jose,
CA. Sponsored by Seminars in Usable Design.
Taught by JoAnn Hackos, PhD. 303-2340123 <www.usabledesign.com>
Best Practices 2003 Conference.
September 22–24, 2003, Seattle, WA. Innovator’s Forum. September 25–26, 2003, Seattle,
WA. Sponsored by the CIDM.303-232-7586
<www.infomanagementcenter.com/
conference.htm>
Pacific Northwest Software
Quality Conference. October 13–15,
2003, Portland, OR. Sponsored by the
PNSQC. <www.pnsqc.org>
KM World & Intranets 2003
Conference & Exposition. October
14–16, 2003, Santa Clara, CA. Sponsored by
KM World. <www.kmworld-intranets.com>
Managing Your Documentation
Projects. October 16–17, 2003, Phoenix,
AZ. Sponsored by Seminars in Usable Design.
Taught by Bill Hackos, PhD. 303-234-0123
<www.usabledesign.com>
124
HITS 2003: Humans Interaction
Technology Strategy. October 16–17,
2003, Chicago, IL. Sponsored by the Institute
of Design. <www.id.iit.edu/events/hits/>
forUse 2003: 2nd International
Conference on Usage-Centered
Design. October 19–22, 2003, Portsmouth, NH. Sponsored by Constantine and
Lockwood, Ltd. <www.foruse.com/2003/>
Developing Online Information
for Help and Web-Based Delivery.
October 21–22, 2003, New Orleans, LA.
Sponsored by Seminars in Usable Design.
Taught by JoAnn Hackos, PhD. 303-2340123 <www.usabledesign.com>
2003 FrameUsers Conference.
October 27–29, 2003, Palm Beach, FL.
<www.FrameUsers.com>
Online Information 2003. December 2–4, 2003, London, UK. Sponsored by
Learned Information.
<www.online-information.co.uk>
Content Management Europe
2003. December 2–4, 2003, London, UK.
Sponsored by Imark Communications, Ltd.
<www.cme-expo.co.uk>
Information Technology for
Non-IT Managers. December 15–17,
2003, Chicago, IL. Sponsored by University of
Chicago Graduate School of Business.
<www.chicagoexec.net>
Knowledge Management
International Conference and
Exhibition. February 13–15, 2004, Penang, Malaysia. Sponsored by the School of IT,
Universiti Utara Malaysia.
<www.kmice.uum.edu.my>
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