A move away from Microsoft Word

A move away from Microsoft Word

For the second time this month I’ve heard a prospect say “we want to move away from the Microsoft Word process”. In other words: the Word based authoring process, at this standardisation organisation, is far from efficient and has some serious quality issues. There’s little content reuse with large compliancy issues as a result. There’s a taxonomy in place but hardly any external author is aware of it.

Being a Word user, like 1.2 billion others on this planet, I find a move away from Word on such a large scale (approximately 17.000 external authors at his organisation) hard to imagine. Most people are hooked on Word. The alternative has to be way better for them to even consider using it. By nature it would be disruptive.

And even though we love challenges, this move away from Word is not the one we’re after. The real disruptive challenge we focus on is the move from unstructured to structured authoring, for the masses. We believe that every single person should be able to create structured content, in an intuitive way. Without the knowledge and experience of a technical writer who has been around for 20 years or so. Without knowing what XML is, or XSLT or DITA, JATS, TEI, DocBook, even docx.  

We feel that Microsoft Word can and will play a part in this challenge. We’re just not sure what part yet. So we’re putting a lot of effort in the Word / FontoXML marriage. As with most marriages these days (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce_demography) there’s a big chance we’ll succeed :-)

Taeke Kuyvenhoven
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