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WritersBlock Technical Communications

collaborative authoring with non-proprietary tools




For the current primary client,the company has migrated from proprietary long-document authoring software (Corel Ventura) to a unique and powerful workflow that permits multiple authors, version control, publishing on demand, and has eliminated all proprietary software requirements.

This workflow is based on ReStructuredText, a human-readable markup convention that is transformed into XML through the use of Docutils, an open-source project. The XML is then transformed using XSL FO to produce ready input for XEP. The XSL FO transformation handles everything from standardized title-page layout through chapter content runs, sidebars, and indexing. XEP then performs an automated build each evening, generating publication-quality PDFs for use the next morning.

The client is now able to encourage engineers and technicians to directly contribute to the documentation via text source check-in via CVS, the editor to monitor and finesse these contributions, and to provide the customers with up-to-date manuals specific to the particular software/hardware combination they possess. It has been a significant improvement in both workflow and costs.

“We chose XEP for its professional layout capabilities, including widow/orphan control, hyphenation, solid rendering engine, and superlative PDF output.”

David Priest Editor, WritersBlock Technical Communications