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Re: Book: can we incorporate O'Reilly's edits?

From: Ben Collins-Sussman <sussman_at_collab.net>
Date: 2004-10-21 19:15:15 CEST

On Oct 21, 2004, at 11:52 AM, Julian Foad wrote:

> C. Michael Pilato wrote:
>> Garrett Rooney <rooneg@electricjellyfish.net> writes:
>>> after you hit a certain point in the publishing process last minute
>>> changes are made in the framemaker (or whatever equivalent tool the
> [...]
>> At this point, they are simply unable to provide us
>> anything even resembling a patchfile. :-(
> Yes, I understand how it happens. I just hope they keep a note of
> what they have changed, as they are going to want to do the same thing
> next time.
> Even a hand-written list of the approximate types of change would be
> useful. That must be more like what Ben meant they are now able to
> provide.
> But, if we can't reasonably easily get anything useful from them,
> then, oh well, we'll live.

There's a small disconnect here in the publishing process. Most
publishers, once they typeset something using proprietary tools,
consider themselves to have the "main" book source. They collect
errata and publish new versions based on their FrameMaker files. This
model works pretty well, in general, for most books. But not with open
source books, which are evolving constantly.

But now we have a case where both parties -- publisher and authors --
each consider themselves to have the "main" book source. The authors
consider the docbook XML to be the real thing, the FrameMaker stuff
merely a derived product. The publishers consider the docbook XML to
be nonexistent, and their binary files to be the real thing. Each
party wants the other to 'send diffs', thinking the *other* party's
changes are the errata. :-)

Of course, I'm making things sound antagonistic, when they really
aren't. The problem is that in this case, the authors have nice tools
for sending and receiving patches, and the publishers don't, being
locked into FrameMaker, and being ordinary editors, not techie people.
So it's an awkward impasse. It's really, really hard to trade changes
back and forth, so it's not being done. We tried to visually spot all
the changes they made in FrameMaker, but it was an imperfect process.

When it comes time for O'Reilly to publish a 1.1 or 1.2 version of the
book, I fear that they'll be in for an unpleasant surprise. The book
is constantly changing, and their FrameMaker code is not. I think that
means they're just going to have to take a fresh delivery of XML and
re-import into FrameMaker, re-format everything.

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Received on Thu Oct 21 19:16:41 2004

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