Upstream University
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LSM: The concept of libre publisher

Lecture of 10 July 2002 at LSM by Ismael Olea about the concept of libre publisher: publishing services for libre documentation.

Yesterday I talked about the problems of free documentation. My experience working in LDP allowed me to identify them and try to find solutions.

I learned about editing books in classic ways. It offers many solutions to our problems. Electronic books are different but the process is exactly the same and we can reuse the methodology and we can improve our librarian work.

We depend on volunteers, this is a difference. But most of the problems we face in electronic edition are the same.

Necessity to define an editorial plan. I have books here explaining how to do that in the traditional publishing world. We just have to learn about it, there is no need to re-invent it.

We need linguistic tools. People need to proofread, tools can fix spelling mistakes etc.

We need to learn typography. How to cut paragraphs, when using quotes or double quotes etc. And there are differences when switching to a foreign langage.

Different documentation projects have more similarities than differences. Therefore we can share most of the resources and they should be merged. There should be a common framework in order to maintain a quality process.

Loc Dachary: how can you convince projects to merge ?

This is already happening in many documentation projects.

Back to the main topic. Many volunteers need to learn and we must smooth the learning curve. We should contact linguists in universities in order to complete our tools and help them with our work. Universities and documentation projects synergies must increase.

Now more about the editorial plan. I was very much inspired from a spanish book. There is the Author, the Editor, the Book and the Reader. The Author creates, the Editor reproduces, the Book is published and finally the Reader consumes it.

The reproduction stage (editing) is not trivial. We have a lot of filters we need to remove the useless formats. We are more interested in HTML, PDF etc. Less interested in dvi, for instance.

The various roles of people define the configuration of the working groups. When we define the work that is expected for a given role, it makes it a lot easier.

  • Editor
  • Authors
  • Proofreaders
  • Printers
  • Librarians
  • Graphics
  • Web authors

The quality process need to define the points that need to be checked to ensure that the produced document is of acceptable quality.

We define conventions to classify documents. For instance reference, guides, howto etc. For each of them we need a specific software configuration. By merging all the documentations we create an encyclopedia and define what kind of manuals are needed. For instance Apache has a need for a FAQ, a reference and a guide. That's not what happens sometime. We see HOWTO that really are reference manuals.

At the end we want to have a well organized library.

Teaching the volunteers. They are not ready to use all the tools and not ready to learn everything about publishing. We need to explain them how to do things properly in a very short time. This is the goal of the tutorial.

A first and important thing is to establish a "love" relationship with volunteers. They need to feel at home.

For collaborative work we need a SourceForge like platform. For instance for printing services, electronic publication, bug tracking, helping the edition process. We also need dictionnaries, thesaurus, glossaries etc.

[I left the room before the end of the conference].

Loc Dachary

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Updated: $Date: 2002-07-10 15:14:35 +0200 (Wed, 10 Jul 2002) $ $Author: loic $