Document Workshop – Part Two

Last week, I promised to share an example of the collaborative space where proximity rules. I’m going to use the site pictured last week, the site we use to produce our training newsletter. Publishing a newsletter presents some interesting challenges. First, the production is divided between an editor and a person responsible for layout. Second, in the ideal edition, the content is written by multiple authors, some who are new to the task. Finally, the newsletter is produced in Adobe InDesign but contributing authors don’t have access to that software.

If we start our tour in the middle left, we find a contact list. This is the contact information and contribution history of authors and the editorial staff. If you have questions, these are the people to ask. Below that is a task list. We don’t always use this, but when we have multiple authors or complicated articles, we manage those tasks here. When we move to the right side of the page, we start working with digital resources.

Topping the right-side work area is a document library. This is where the working copies of the newsletter are developed. There are folders, yes folders, for draft articles and supporting graphics and images. The folders work in this case for a simple reason. Once a newsletter is produced, the draft articles are disposed of but the graphics may be useful in future issues or, readers may ask us for a copy of a chart or image from a particular edition. Having both sets of items in the same location helps the layout artist do her job more easily, especially since we’re using InDesign. InDesign isn’t SharePoint aware so we’re working ‘old school’, check-out, edit, save and check-in. Discovering new libraries isn’t Adobe’s strong suit so starting in the same location speeds that process along.

Beneath the document library is a custom list we call our ‘Toolbox’. This list is designed to store instructions and, if files are necessary, they are attached. We have a variety of “regular” columns in the newsletter. For each of these, we describe the column, provide tips for writing it and specify the column length. In addition, since the authors don’t have InDesign, we created Word templates with columns, margins and Styles that mimic the InDesign layout. These are stored as an attachment to the list item. Another list item includes the Storyboard we use to plan the layout and the instructions for completing that. Another list item has the instructions for producing the printed copy and the PDF copy as well as the distribution instructions for the PDFs.

At the top of the page is a Discussion part where authors can ask questions and we can debate design issues without starting an email barrage. Under the toolbox is a list of useful Links. Some of these are permanent, some are removed after publication. With each new edition, we start with the essential tools and recent examples close at hand. What happens to the finished copies? They are managed in a different site, once they are published, the production crew doesn’t need them.