Last week I was sitting in a room with a group of technical authors discussing structured authoring software experiences. I mentioned that in my experience, the first SGML/XML authoring tool you work with will always be your favorite.
Having been a consultant and trainer for XML Authoring tools – Adobe FrameMaker, Arbortext Editor and to a lesser degree Xmetal Author, I have seen with both customers and internal consultants in house, whichever tool they are taught to use properly the first time, will also be their “go to product” if the choice is available.
I could say the same of my personal experiences, until recently that is…
For me it was always FrameMaker that I would choose to author my large chapters inside a well-structured and robust book. Recently however, my challenges, concerns and expectations of what I require in an XML authoring tool are different. I am working with S1000D all the time now, therefore I am not working with large files with a focus on a well-formatted PDF as the end result. Instead I am working in small blocks of information (data modules) with a strong focus on data-reuse and multi-channel delivery.
The benefits of having a WYSIWYG authoring view, managing continuous pages, files in a book or final print view are no longer important to me, but being able to look directly into a S1000D Database to grab common parts, spares, tools, data modules and images and dragging and dropping them into my document with the required reference mark-up, is really important!
Based on my new requirements, today my new love is R4i Writer! Yes OK you could say I have to love the product considering it is one my company created, but I would say that it is simply the right tool for the job of authoring S1000D data modules today.