Applying Configuration Management to Books


Esther and I have finally integrated all of our reviewer comments for Behind Closed Doors. We're looking forward to final publisher (that's Andy and Dave) comments, and copyediting, and then yippee, the book is ready for printing. We think the printing is about 6 weeks away — very fast for a book. Some of you might be saying, “Hmm, how the heck do they do move from final electronic form to a book so quickly?”

Well, Andy and Dave have applied a little software to the publishing process. They start with XML and apply a little software smarts to making a book. That means that once the text is in XML, all you need to do is edit files, commit the changes, and boom, the fixes are in.

If Esther and I were better at XML, we might have written directly in XML and saved the translation step. But we weren't so we didn't. The cost was a few days of Andy's and my time, and a large glass of wine (for me) at the end to celebrate the end of the tedium of translation.

But now, we can be very fast to fix problems. It's easy to edit XML (because it's text). And, because we can “make” the book at any time, we can check our fixes to see that they look exactly the way we want them to. No more translations to/from what the publisher uses, because we use what the publisher uses.

This also means we can branch/label so we don't have to lose what we originally wrote as the first printing when it's time for second printing.

I'm enough of a geek to be really enjoying this part 🙂

Want to know some of the ideas in the book? Esther and I will be blogging about them in the coming weeks…

One Reply to “Applying Configuration Management to Books”

  1. Interesting. We are considering using XML as our technical publications format, so we can treat it like source code. Any more thoughts on your experience?

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