[Matrix-SIG] RE: Authoring tools (was Active arrays)

Zow Terry Brugger zow@pensive.llnl.gov
Wed, 19 Jan 2000 15:28:23 -0800

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> 	Far and away the best tool I've ever used for this sort of thing is
> Interleaf.  It was designed from the ground up to be an environment for
> production of long, structured documents by many authors collaborating.  It

Whoa! They used Interleaf for the documentation at the last company I worked 
with and their experience with it was enough to sway me away from it 
permanently. The documentation department was just two people, but both were 
highly intelligent, competent people (so I'm ruling out user error).

First of all, Interleaf is very expensive and very complicated. To use it for 
the NumPy documentation would be like suggesting we use ClearCase for the 
revision control. It would require a large amount of outlay of cash and 
training for everyone involved, which is obviously not feasible.

Secondly, Interleaf was going down-hill last I heard (about two years ago) - 
bugs were going unfixed for years at a time, new functionality wasn't being 
added, etc. The theory was that too much of their customer base was moving to 
more cost-effective solutions, like Frame Maker, which is what that company 
was doing when I left.

I'm left with the impression that Interleaf is probably still a good solution 
if you have tens or hundreds of people working on the same documents and a 
full time staff devoted to maintaining Interleaf, but for a distributed, 
collaborative project, I don't think there's any way it could work.

I think what we really need to do is examine exactly what we're looking for a 
documentation tool. Maybe some of the simpler word processors like Star Office 
or Abi Word do everything we really need. Or maybe HTML is sufficient for our 
needs: anyone can edit it and most people have an HTML editor they're very 
comfortable with. Everyone has an HTML viewer they're happy with, and most of 
those can generate very acceptable printed pages. On the flip side, I can just 
see the wars starting over, "You're Frontpage completely ruined the formating 
of this document!" "Well, I had to do that because I don't want to be bothered 
with the tags like you are in vi!" Food for thought.


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