So, you have been hearing about this single-sourcing thing, but what does it actually mean? In the technical communication industry, opinions and definitions vary. Our definition is:
Single sourcing is creating a single content source then producing different types of documentation from it.
For example, you may decide you want a user manual and online Help system for your customers, and a self-help tutorial for your help desk employees.
Each deliverable has an overlap of similar content as well as its own unique content. Rather than creating three documentation products using several technical writers and/or documentation development tools, you can create the content once and produce all the deliverables from that single source.
There are several ways of single sourcing. We'll briefly cover some of them here.
Methods of single sourcing include:
Using conditional text to create several manuals, with similar content, at the same time, from one source document
Creating a manual then converting it to online help a.k.a document conversion
Using a content management system or single-sourcing software application
Content reuse - reusing "chunks" of content across product lines from one source
There are several software applications available for each of these methods. We can help you decide the best application(s) and method to complete your single-sourcing project.