"Clean Specs"

W. Eliot Kimber eliot at dns.isogen.com
Sun Feb 7 23:45:25 GMT 1999

At 06:34 PM 2/7/99 -0500, Murray Maloney wrote:
> A professional technical writer was hired
>by W3C for the HTML 4.0 specification.

Didn't know that--puts the lie to what I just posted....

>The XML WG did have at least one professional writer and one 
>professional editor on board, and many of those who were not
>professional writers/editors could not fairly be categorized 
>as amateurs given their academic and professional histories.
>In my experience as a technical writer, I have discovered that
>the act of explaining the application of a technical design
>can, in many cases, lay bare its flaws. Cooperation between 
>writers and designers often results in designs that take the 
>end-user into account.

I agree--in writing my (as yet unfinished) book on HyTime
(www.drmacro.com/bookrev) I uncovered numerous problems with the original
standard, which helped tremendously during the writing of the 2nd edition
of the standard.  While reference implementations are always good,
"reference tutorials" are at least as valuable.  It would be nice if we
always had enough resources and/or time to write the spec and the tutorial
in parallel. Of course, often the person writing the spec is also the one
to write the tutorial and there's only so many hours in a day....


<Address HyTime=bibloc>
W. Eliot Kimber, Senior Consulting SGML Engineer
ISOGEN International Corp.
2200 N. Lamar St., Suite 230, Dallas, TX 75202.  214.953.0004

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