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Really Simple Publication (part two)

by Rob Friesel

Let’s continue and see if we can’t identify a contender or two. In our last episode, we laid down a few ground rules with respect to the application we envision as our goal by digging into the context of our subject-slash-target audience. In this episode, let’s think about our content creation tool and give only a little bit of thought to publication. Our question this time around:

How easy will it be to make make our document?

Let us begin with the web professional’s worst nightmare: Microsoft Word.

Why even consider Word? Any web professional knows that it is probably THE WORST TOOL for creating web content in the history of the web. The only way it could even remotely produce anything worth while is by turning off all of the rich text features, hand-coding your document, and saving as plain text, right?

Let’s remember our subject. Our subject does not want to perform hand-coding or think at all about things like web standards. We want to reduce this to “Save” and “Publish” or (better yet) just “Save”.

So can Word help us here? Perhaps. Build a little content (i.e., type paragraphs and notes) and “Save As…” We’ve even got (roughly equivalent) versions on both of the platforms that we mentioned in our ground rules. So we’re off to a good start. (You can almost see why I decided to start here?)

But we quickly run into problems starting with “Save As…”

  1. “Save As…” isn’t an effective publisher. “Save As…” gives us the option to save the content in a facsimile of the HTML format but only locally. If the web share could be mounted as a network volume then that would solve this problem. Just “Save As…” and then select the right drive/volume. But (for those GTD’ers out there) this depends quite a bit on context.
  2. The code really isn’t very pretty in the final analysis. Its rendering across browsers was pretty consistent (e.g., Camino, Firefox, Safari) but the source code left me cringing. While the sanctity of the output was not one of our pre-conditions (and certainly not something our subject will much care about), I cannot in good conscience make the recommendation after seeing it. It just feels like a disaster waiting to happen. (We have a reputation to hold up here, after all.)
  3. Adding an image was easy enough. Command+C, Command+V. (Or replace “Command” with “Control” if that’s your bag…) Video was a no-go though. No command+c, command+v. No “Insert from file….” You could probably insert a link. But that assumes you know (or can figure out) what the link will be once the video is up on the web server. Points off.

Our verdict? Simple to make HTML content but quickly falls apart when it comes to anything besides text and images; and not even remotely an answer to the publication questions. So (thankfully? predictable?) Word is out.

Up next? iWeb?

currently playing: Massive Attack “Safe From Harm”

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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