Between the Devil and the DTD
authoring in the Brave New World of structured documentation


In the Brave New World of structured documentation, writers find themselves between a rock and a hard place, between the Devil (following provided templates and guidelines, but always teetering precariously near the abyss of chaos) and the DTD (requiring unswerving allegiance to an inflexible set of rules).




Before structured documentation

After structured documentation

Lone writers in their garrets

Collaborative authors in a CMS

Writer as artist

Author as specialist

The tyranny of the template

The dictatorship of the DTD

Personal WYSIWYG tools

Integrated collaborative toolkits



The Devil made me do it

The DTD made me do it


Template and style overrides

Rearrange content to fit the rules


Traditional top-down outline

Modular bottom-up mindmap


Tweak layout at the last minute

Settle for imperfect layout and display