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Single Source & Multi-Channel Publishing

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Create, Manage and Deliver Content More Efficiently 

Single Source (or Multi-Channel Publishing) allows the same content to be used across different documents or formats. The labour-intensive and expensive work required to create and deliver content need only be carried out once, on one source.

Transformations to a specific document output and/or output format are then carried out automatically. It is even possible to add new output formats as needs develop.

For example, a company might use the same content in a PDF for print or web, a web page, a handheld device and also online help. With a single source solution, the company only has to update the one source file for the content and regenerate the outputs automatically. 

Each output could also offer differing levels of detail for each audience profile and automatically adjust layout to suit the channel of delivery e.g. content and layout repurposed for display on a small screen.


Confusion Around Single Source & Multi-Channel Publishing

Single source and multi-channel are often debated terms.  Both are often used to refer to processes of going 'from one to many'. Pinning down what constitutes 'one' or 'many' is the difficult part.

Mekon encourage customers to take the broadest possible view, not the most basic definition, of 'single source/mutli-channel' when considering content technologies.  The most basic, traditional definition in the context of content technology would be:

  • Single Source is the process of taking content from one original content deliverable - usually a "document", but this would also include online help terms or with a table of context linking them together in a certain order - and creating multiple copies ("renditions") in different output formats such as MS Word or FrameMaker to HTML, PDF and Web.  Single-source often implies a direct reproduction of the same content in different formats. 
  • Multi-Channel Publishing is a very similar idea - many would say the same - but has less implication that the result is a simple reproduction of the same source.

This makes "channels" and "output formats" synonymous.  In this definition, a single person writing in Frame or Word and publishing to both PDF and HTML would be single-source their contents, or delivering their content out through multiple channels. 

Mekon make an effort to extend these to include not only when a single document is rendered to multiple formats, but when "channels" or "formats" includes not only format in the sense of PDF vs. HTML vs. CHM, but different content assemblies of content for different audiences or use cases, from the same source components, or from a mix of sources which get combined together and then put out to multiple deliverables simultaneously or automatically.  A "deliverable" being whatever your users want - a knowledge base entry, an intra/extranet, or a traditional PDF, but with specifically the content they want.