The company I work for threw me into the arduous task of not only setting standards for our document data but to manage the entire process of an SGML implementation. A dream job for a technical writer? Maybe but I must have been delusional!
An Arbortext consultant, who was concerned for my sanity gave me this book as a wedding gift and advised me to read it on my very short honeymoon. By doing this, I would hopefully have some background and be able to participate effectively as a team member during the data modeling and system design with Arbortext. I had been putting in many long hours on the project already, had a good understanding of databases and had a better than average understanding of single sourcing concepts, Therefore, I felt I knew enough to get through the tasks without doing this reading. I DID skim through some of it on the plane but failed to read anywhere near enough.
The book is a complete cookbook on how to put together a data modeling team and how to complete the process.
So what's in the book that's so great? The book has a very good review of SGML concepts in general. Since the author loves to cook you will be treated to some excellent recipes while reviewing what you already know and learning the processes! You will understand what a good DTD is, why you need one, who the people you need are, and how to get the work done. You will also find out about the pitfalls in the design process and some ways to avoid them.
You'll learn how to perform a needs analysis and develop DTD requirements. In this process you will find ELM tree diagrams useful and will learn how to both read and design these equivalents of program flowcharts which become very useful documentation of your work. You will learn the importance of setting naming conventions and of documenting every single step.
Read this book BEFORE you start your first SGML or XML development project! Follow the concepts religiously and use the suggestions. You will save time and dollars in the long run and that's what it's really all about.