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Publishing process experiences

From: Hugh Barnes <Hugh.Barnes@nehta.gov.au>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2009 13:30:37 +1000
Message-ID: <AF71EBF47E5747479974EC646B5A3F6150CCC9@WIC004EBCLV3.exchange.server-login.com>
To: <public-egov-ig-etf@w3.org>
Hi

I said I would provide an account of my experience of our publication of
the "Publishing Open Government Data" (data.gov.*) Working Draft. This
is in the spirit of improvement, and also because I can't really be
functional at the hour teleconferences are held. I believe it is on this
week's agenda. Some of you have mentioned going through similar
exercises in other groups. It would be useful to hear your stories as
well.

My role was to mark up the normative HTML version from the finished
draft, to be ready for deployment (publication) in accordance with W3C
rules.

It seemed an ambitious timeframe, but I think it wasn't totally crazy as
long as someone had time. I believe many key players took holidays in
August. (I don't count myself among them, but I was also away for half
that month, so unable to contribute.)

As I recall, it was a last-minute "go" decision in the teleconference to
try to get it published. It seems given the tight deadline that a very
rigorous publication plan might have been called for. Perhaps it would
have been a good idea to run a basic check for problems that we thought
might hold back publishing.

It seems the timeframe was especially pressed because of public
holidays, (joined to) the weekend, and timezones. We probably should
have thought a little more carefully about exactly what a problem these
would be in combination. Receiving the go-ahead on the Friday as I did,
effectively this could not be presented into the W3C publication process
until Tuesday.

The document had been edited off the wiki on Google Docs. I assume this
was the authors' agreed preference, which is fine. (I asked why this had
happened on IRC in the teleconference but no-one responded and I didn't
feel like pursuing it.) I think we certainly lost some tracking (or edit
visibility) with that move, however. I noticed when I exported the
document that it was difficult to determine heading levels in later
parts of the document. I have no idea if that is because of Google Docs
rendering, or the way it was authored, or the tool making it too easy
for authors to confuse structure with presentation. However, it was a
concerning error (and perhaps also of concern that the content didn't
make the heading levels obvious!). I would vote for keeping edits on the
wiki in future. I'd like to move it back.

I was surprised the document had no graphics, or even points marked
where they were to be inserted, as I remember some excellent graphics
being circulated. There were some key sections like Abstract missing.
The final title was in some doubt. I wasn't bothered by the @@'s in some
sections because I thought that was acceptable for Working Drafts.

For these types of reasons, it would have been good to have had some
open channels of communication with key players. A lot of the problems
would have gone away if that was the case. Last minute ambiguities and
issues will always exist. I was fortunate that Sandro stays on IRC and
guided me through some of these problems. IRC seems to support effective
interaction across timezones a little better than email.

All that said, it was generally a pleasure and an honour to perform the
task. Thanks to the editors of the document, and Rachel, Sandro, Jose
and the others who helped this along.

I hope that's helpful and that you can work out a more robust process.

Hugh Barnes
Technical Interface Specialist
nehta - National E-Health Transition Authority

Address:         Level 2, 10 Browning St, West End, QLD, 4101
Phone:           +61 7 3023 8537
Mobile:          +61 417 469 552
 
Email:           hugh.barnes@nehta.gov.au
Web:             http://www.nehta.gov.au 
Received on Tuesday, 15 September 2009 04:09:25 GMT

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