Single-sourcing is the use of a single document to produce other forms of documents, such as manuals and online help. It allows one document to be used in different kinds of formats, thereby increasing the usability of the documentation. Single-sourcing also eliminates duplicate work and facilitates the reuse of existing information, which saves time and money.
Single-sourcing is also known as single source publishing.
Traditional documents are usually written in files for each document section. These files are assembled to develop the document. The files may also contain help topics grouped by section. Single-source material consists of information objects available from a single location. The information objects are assembled to develop information products. The information is written once, thereby eliminating redundancy and possible mistakes due to the existence of multiple content sources.
Single-source information is usually broken down into base or element levels such as sections, paragraphs and sentences. When the information is granulated, it becomes easy to choose a particular element for reuse. There are three levels of single sourcing:
dentical Content, Multiple Media: This type of single-sourcing helps in reducing development and production costs. It also helps to reduce the time required in developing a product.
Static Customized Content: This level of single-sourcing helps to effectively design the content. Single-sourcing material, the type of content to be developed and the output media are customized according to user needs. However, the source elements are not altered. Additional content may be added and specific elements can be kept or deleted according to user requirements and depending on the type of media used.
Dynamic Content: This level provides customized and just-in-time content, reduces the need to search for relevant information and provides content developed as dictated by requirements or system configuration. The content can further be customized to facilitate unique processes.