Using elvis?

Paul W. Frields paul at
Fri Jul 30 22:03:42 UTC 2004

On Fri, 2004-07-30 at 11:32, Hoyt wrote:
> As a technical writer, I have always found the requirement to use complex 
> formatting tools an onerous burden. Unless formatting is crucial to 
> understanding the content, it is a task better left to an editor. While I 
> certainly understand the need to use sophisticated formatting in this case
> The focus for the writer should be on what they do best: content. The 
> important work of formatting (if not known by the writer, and there's no 
> reason why they can't learn it if they wish) should be left to those who are 
> experts there. That there are volunteers that offer to handle that is 
> wonderful and a great example of cooperative work to acjhieve a goal.

While I agree with the sentiment that formatting is best left to an
editor, keep in mind that the Emacs/{psgml,nxml} route is really not
hard to learn. I did it... and I was a vi guy (and barely that) who only
learned enough so I could contribute. In fact, I'd like to spend more of
my time writing docs, maybe trying to finally put together a real
installation guide and administration guide, which seems to be something
sorely lacking. But I volunteered as an editor, and am willing and able
to do that if/when people submit material.

Having said that, because the DocBook tools are so easy, it's *FAR* more
efficient to use them while writing than for someone else to come in
after the fact and do markup. It gets easier if another SGML (or even
Wiki) is used, since some of the work can be automated. But because as a
writer I know how my document should be organized, it's easier for me to
provide the structure as I go. Minor markup certainly can be provided by
an editor later, though.

I don't think the toolset in FDP is much of a barrier to entry... if it
was, believe me, with a full-time (mostly unrelated) job, a family, and
a band, I wouldn't be hanging around here. :-) I'm not even a developer
and probably not as good at integrating new app knowledge as a lot of
Linux folks out there. But yet, even being a total nobody, I felt
perfectly welcome jumping in. In fact, I'm doing a presentation shortly
for a conference which I am going to turn into another FDP tutorial.

I am personally in favor of a little less worry about "when is everyone
else going to join in?" If we actually publish some useful documents,
that is when people will see what it is we are about, and how some
community members' accepted work looks. Then they can easily assess
whether they can provide similar material, and jump in too.

And yes, the LAPCVS(tm) would be great to have. I'm not waiting for that
to do my writing, personally.

Hope this didn't sound like anything other than the "rah-rah team" speak
it was intended to be.

Paul W. Frields, RHCE

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