© Ugur Akinci
To control the document output process and enforce style and content standards have always been among the top concerns of technical writers. Applications like FrameMaker, PageMaker, and InDesign tried to solve the problem by bringing in the concept of templates consisting of “Master Pages.” Others like MS Word allowed the writers to design templates without the luxury of master pages.
Those solutions work but with a catch – what happens when the writer embeds ad hoc styles or changes the template here and there to fit the demands of the moment?
What keeps the writers from changing those templates? Nothing; and you end up with a document that does not comply with corporate guidelines and standards. That could be a big problem (including, increasing production & localization costs and even legal problems) if you are generating hundreds and thousands of documents published not only in PDF print form but also as HTML, over mobile platforms, as application help files, etc.
WebWork’s solution to the “Discipline Problem”
WebWorks approached that “discipline problem” with a radical solution: separating the roles and working environments of DESIGNERS/DEVELOPERS from WRITERS.
That’s why there are two different ePublisher versions:
Usually the “pro” version of a software is the souped-up version of its plain entry model. Not with ePublisher. The PRO version was created specifically for template developers and administrators to create the strict conditions under which the writers are expected to work.
To use a cooking analogy, the template developers use the PRO edition to create STATIONARIES (which is what WebWorks calls a “template”), or the RECIPES for different dishes. The writers, on the other hand, use the EXPRESS edition of ePublisher to import those stationaries and COOK the ACTUAL DISHES as described by the recipes (stationaries).
A stationary defines and limits not only the looks of a document but also the platforms to which it will be published, called the TARGETS. Thus you can have multiple targets (output formats) for the same ePublisher project. When the writers import the stationary, only those targets pre-defined in the stationary are available to them. Thus, if a stationary is developed to publish a document as PDF, the writer cannot change her mind and decide to publish the content as an HTML page.
So you can say that the real exciting and creative work takes place in the PRO ePublisher, since writer’s job is basically one of finding and uploading the source files and generate the output. From that point of view, the role of a writer in EXPRESS ePublisher does not require a lot of decision making since all the important decisions have already been made by the developer in the PRO ePublisher.
ePublisher License Types
Parallel to such a structure, WebWorks also offers two different licensing options for ePublisher: Regular SUBSCRIPTION licenses and PERMANENT licenses.
PERMANENT license (both for PRO and EXPRESS) comes with 12 months of maintenance and support. After 12 months, the user keeps the software but no upgrades or customer support will be available.
SUBSCRIPTION option (both for PRO and EXPRESS), on the other hand, includes all the upgrades and maintenance/support services as long as the subscription is maintained. If I were heading a large technical department, I’d probably opt for the SUBSCRIPTION license since what’s a software these days without upgrades and maintenance?
(DISCLOSURE: At the time of this review, ePublisher was one of the sponsors of this web site.)