Moving Large Documents to the Web | 3
Moving Large Documents to the Web
Large-scale document conversion is like needing a general contractor who comes with every tool and gadget in the back of his or her truck. A variety of HTML, Web programming and graphics tools are needed. Our team has converted thousands of pages of written materials using Adobe's FrameMaker. Framemaker has style formatting, pagination technology, cross-referencing and character formats that create consistency and global control of styles. Framemaker preserves a printing option and can save a copy as an Acrobat .pdf file. Once the Framemaker content is chunked, organized and cross referenced, Quadralay's WebWorks Publisher tool is used to convert the docs to HTML, DHTML, JavaHelp, WinHelp, WebHelp, Microsoft HTML Help, XHTML and XML. WebWorks Publisher's use of cascading styles sheet technology is excellent. The code generated by WebWorks is not lean but it is formatted for easy editing.
Adobe's Acrobat 3 and 4 have excellent search and navigation functionality built directly into the .pdf reader. Documents that must be sent via the Web and maintain a printing option are good candidates for .pdf. Framemaker comes with a .pdf distiller built in to the application.
I agree with Jeffrey Zeldman (alistapart.com) who writes that "link rot" and maintenance are two of the toughest challenges facing Web developers. In the case of large document conversion sites, maintenance is tougher because of the magnitude of content that can change due to outside sources.
Information that frequently changes is best kept in the formats generated by the conversion tools without customization. This allows you to update that information and upload it as frequently as needed. Set up a system where content editors or SME's make all updates in digital formats. Our organization gives Framemaker to personnel who have the content expertise. The files are sent to the Web developers who convert it to the Web. Large doc sites need designated personnel to maintain the sites; especially with content that changes on regularly scheduled intervals (financial prospectuses, government documents, medical technology research, etc.).
Developers who are successful in redeveloping documents to the Web are helping move users toward real time Web media for all their information needs.
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About the author: Coming from the instructional design, help authoring and freelance CBT worlds, Rick Diehl combines aspects of multimedia, information design and Web development to produce e-learning solutions. His current role is as an instructional Web designer at Allmerica Financial in Massachusetts. Corporate training sites and non-profit organization sites are both included in his portfolio . Rick's spare time is spent with his family and taking digital photographs. Rick can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Created: February 2, 2001
Revised: February 5, 2001