MS Word is dead, long live MS Word
Sure Word is bloated and many of the features are difficult to use or are never used, but it’s hard to be beat for producing ad-hoc documents.
The article argues that where collaboration is required, web based authoring tools such as wikis and deal rooms provide much better solutions.But there’s a part of the argument missing that applies as much to a wiki as it does to any unstructured document.
Most documents that contains useful information should be able to be separated into a data payload component, a text component and a style component.The data component consists of the dates, amounts, milestones, names, places, conditions, exceptions, etc that the document relates to. This is the key to tracking, reporting and analyzing a document.
The text is the specific wording that goes around the data – this generally requires a human to completely understand the meaning.
Finally, the style is the way the document looks.
XML based document assembly/automation technologies allow for a distinct separation of these three facets. There’s really no excuse with the technologies available today to be writing commonly used documents from scratch or cutting and pasting from various sources. Important documents should be available as single sourced, marked up templates that require very little effort to produce, are beautifully formatted and are able to be easily analyzed and reported on.