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Structured writing vs word processing

Structured writing: trends and expertise

Structured writing may be defined as the opposite of writing with a word processor. The latter concentrates more on the layout of the information, while with structured writing, the most important thing is the meaning of the information and semantics. This is why we speak about structure more than we speak about layout. It's one of the pillars of the separation of function from form. In fact, the writer is going to focus on the meaning of the information that he's writing (is it a title, a warning, a step in a procedure?) rather than on the layout (font, color, size, etc.).

This makes it possible to standardize writing and greatly reduce document-availability lead times. The writer focuses on content without wasting time on the layout. In addition, it will be easy to integrate existing content, without running the risk of "breaking" the structure, as is often the case with "copy/paste" in word processing. The layout will be done after writing is complete with a simple click via the appropriate stylesheet. The writer can publish his document in various formats to accommodate the reading media (Print, PDF, Web, mobile media, etc.).

With structured writing, all reusable content can be clearly identified. It is immediately included in the document. Whereas with a word processor, which was not designed for that, searching for content in various documents, which are themselves located in various folders, can be complicated and time-consuming even with the "find" feature.

For example, if you make a contract with a word processor, it will be complicated to identify all the information that is specific to this contract: the name of the recipient of this contract or the price of this contract, the duration of the contract. validity etc. While in structured writing, each of this information will be identified and extracted easily and immediately. This makes it possible to use Business Intelligence, whereas if you are using a word processor, it requires an additional step of re-entering the information.

Business Intelligence

Structured writing: the other way to efficiently create company and community documents

The role of modularization in structured writing

Modularization is an important principle of structured writing. It makes it possible to create both reusable content modules and libraries of reusable elements. This structurisation precisely identifies the reusable parts, the contexts of this re-use in order to do it in an effective way, with all of the resulting advantages.

The role of this modularization can be summarized in the following three points:

  • Uniqueness of the information;

  • Time saved by reusing information;

  • Reliability of the information.

Communicate better with structured writing

Structured writing also allows you to customize information and supply the recipient with the content that fits his case, and only the content that he needs.

Today, the recipient may ask to view the content on the media that is most suitable to a given use. In fact, structured information is not dependent on a publishing media. In other words, that is going to allow generation of printable or digital versions for viewing on a screen, smartphone, tablet, etc.

Multi-format publishing

Does using Calenco require specific XML skills?

No, because Calenco's great added value is making all of the power of structured writing available to sector experts who fully master their fields without being experts in computing or writing. This allows them to structure information in a totally intuitive manner.

Calenco developed an interface that is unique on the market, to make structured writing available to all.

Structured writing is based on the principle of XML, which was designed for this purpose. Widely used for many years in the defense and aeronautics fields to generate and manage sensitive documents, until now it was reserved for expert writers who master the XML language under S1000D, DITA or DocBook standards.

Calenco's strength is in freeing the writer from having to learn complex languages. It allows you to devote yourself to organizing the production of your documents, and to quickly and reliably writing them.

A few examples of companies for whom Calenco changed the way documents are written

The most striking example, in terms of change, effectiveness and reliability, is that of a multinational in the energy field, for writing test procedures for thermal power stations. First, it produces test procedures in a semi-automatic way, using a library of procedures, structured by simple filtering and assembly. Secondly, it allows ground teams to enter all test results directly on tablets in a structured manner, so that in the end, all of the information may be re-used in an analytical and statistical manner.

A second example could be Bouygues Construction. They use the full power of structured writing. This allows HR assistants to generate personalized and reliable employment contracts. This contract will include all employees' data in a structured manner that then allows this data to be used in a human resources management system.