Author-it for re-use and single sourcing

For almost two years we have been using Author-it for creating and publishing documents for a local water and wastewater utility. To say that learning AIT has been a challenge would be an understatement but we don’t regret making the move to this powerful program.

Author-it is a professional document creation application that allows content reuse and single source / multiple publishing.

Content re-use becomes a huge asset when you are creating a whole library of interrelated and overlapping documents. In our situation we started out by virtually re-writing an existing operations manual. Next we designed and wrote a whole series of standard operating procedures (SOP). There is significant overlap between these documents. The operations manual describes the processes, control systems, operational policy/techniques and then includes basic procedures. The SOPs focus in on the procedures, expanding them and providing additional detail. The operations manual and SOPs were then used as a basis for training materials. Content re-use allows us to re-use content objects in multiple documents. An added benefit is that when an object is edited or updated the content in all documents that use that object is updated as well.

Single sourcing enables us to create a document (focusing on content primarily) and then publish it to print formats (MSWord/pdf), web (various flavours of HTML) or even as help files. For this client we publish to print and HTML. As with many clients, hardcopy manuals are still preferred by most plant staff. But the ability to publish the same content to an internal website assists plant personnel with the transition to a version of the documentation that features hyperlinked tables of content, indicies, glossaries and links between documents.

We should say again that learning AIT has not been easy. The learning curve is steep, but the benefits are worth the effort. AIT is also an evolving software application (like many) and has had some bugs, especially in one of their major releases. We have worked through these and continue to be convinced that this is the best choice for our situation.

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One Response to “Author-it for re-use and single sourcing”

  1. Author It is a fantastic Content Management System because indeed you can reuse objects (like icons and images and blocks of text), so this reduces your overall work when updates are made. I used Author It for two years while documenting Aircraft Maintenance software. Good post, thanks!

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