Tout de Suite…too many suites?

Sarah O'Keefe / Opinion1 Comment

You may have missed Madcap’s recent announcements of their sundry product upgrades somehow. Perhaps you were on a deep-sea expedition or out in the desert? I fully expect, though, that you would have received an announcement from Madcap via SMS on your satellite phone. But I digress…the topic of this post is not supposed to be the awesome power of the Madcap Marketing Machine™.

The Adobe Army has the Tech Comm Suite to face off against the MadCap Minions with their MadPak. Adobe’s marketing is a little less…um, aggressive than their competitor. And let’s not forget Author-it, which describes Author-it itself as a tightly integrated product suite.

So many suites…so little time. I feel like a kid in a candy shop. (And I’m a bit of an expert on candy shops.)

Except for one problem. Take a look at my top three requirements for authoring software:

  • Creates XML content in my preferred structure
  • Validates XML content against my preferred structure
  • Publishes XML content through XSL and XSL-FO to create HTML, PDF, and other deliverable formats

None of the suites do these things. Oh sure, MadCap and Author-it save content in XML (really, XHTML, but who’s counting) and FrameMaker can validate against arbitrary structures.

But as I’ve said in many publications and presentations
, the current trend is to take away publishing responsibilities from content creators. Instead of authoring books, authors are creating bits of content, which are then assembled into the final deliverables. And the use of a suite seems to go against that trend because authors are once again placed at the center of the publishing effort.

Am I the only one who would like to see a shift in focus?

PS I apologize to the French language. I am well aware that I completely murdered the translation of “tout de suite” — which actually means “right away.” I’m afraid I’m just powerless against the joy of really bad puns, especially really bad multilingual puns.

About the Author

Sarah O'Keefe

Twitter

Content strategy consultant and founder of Scriptorium Publishing. Bilingual English-German, voracious reader, water sports, knitting, and college basketball (go Blue Devils!). Aversions to raw tomatoes, eggplant, and checked baggage.

One Comment on “Tout de Suite…too many suites?”

  1. Nice blog post today about the rise of the “technical suites.”
    Especially the line about “the current trend is to take away publishing responsibilities from content creators. Instead of authoring books, authors are creating bits of content, which are then assembled into the final deliverables. And the use of a suite seems to go against that trend because authors are once again placed at the center of the publishing effort.”
    Don’t worry you aren’t alone in thinking this way – the ePublisher Platform is architected with that exact workflow in mind.
    Our aim is to automate the publishing process and leave the tech writer free to do what he is hired to do – create content.
    And as for
    “Publishes XML content through XSL and XSL-FO to create HTML, PDF, and other deliverable formats” we do this bit too (well for DITA anyway) –

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