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Poll

What software tools do you use to write a (2 to 20 page) business report?

I mainly use a word processor without or extremely rarely with a mindmapper, outliner, or wiki.
8 (53.3%)
I use a word processor suplemented by a wiki, mindmapper or outliner.
3 (20%)
A wiki, outliner, or mindmapper is my main writing tool, perhaps supplemented by a layout tool.
0 (0%)
I use a text editor suplemented by a wiki, mindmapper, or outliner.
2 (13.3%)
A text editor only or text editor supplemented by a layout tool (eg. a word processor or TeX.)
1 (6.7%)
I open an email message, bang the keyboard, then hit send.
0 (0%)
All self-respecting business people use  spreadsheets. (Anything else is for ad agencies and PR people.)
0 (0%)
Dude, people don't write business reports. They're emailed by the databases. What industy do you work in?
1 (6.7%)

Total Members Voted: 13

Voting closed: May 01, 2008, 03:23:42 AM

Author Topic: Word processors, wikis and other tools for writing business reports  (Read 5934 times)

e712

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How might I use a wiki or similar tool to compose two to ten page business reports? I recently referred to a wiki as an outliner in a thread about WikiPad. When I was corrected, it made me realize that something is missing in my understanding of wikis, outliners, mindmappers and related writing tools.
 
Would one of you converts from word processor only to word processor plus WikiPad (or a similar tool) describe the needed change in work habits? 

I am old enough to have worked with dictaphones, secretaries, and typing pools.  The transition to WordStar was tough.   I would compose on comment paper, enter the paper draft on the word processor, print, and then repeat (until done)  make markups, enter markups, print. 

You can clearly see that I didn't get it.   

I suspect that I don't get it with wikis. 

What is the algorithm for starting with WikiPad (or others,) moving to a work processor, and then emailing the result? Do I use a wiki as some kind of super file inclusion tool--using ideas instead of files? Isn't the writing process the organizing of a set of facts and data to a directed graph (wiki) of facts and analysis followed by a transformation to a linear presentation? Or do these questions show that I don't get it?   
« Last Edit: February 01, 2008, 02:26:22 AM by e712 »

Ampa

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Re: Word processors, wikis and other tools for writing business reports
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2008, 06:22:40 AM »
I mostly use a Word Processor, almost always assisted by an assortment of scraps of paper!

Perry Mowbray

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Re: Word processors, wikis and other tools for writing business reports
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2008, 08:23:00 AM »
Difficult to answer as I'm in a state of flux at the moment (because of the advent of WikidPad), moving from mainly Word Processing to mainly Wiki -> WP.

But as an example, the one I've just about finished is the basis of a Testing Plan for some software integration we're doing at work.

Because the whole thing is pretty convoluted (and I wanted to play ;) ) I used WikidPad.

The process started by just collecting the foundational information, requirements and other data, then linking all the base information together. Then I started writing the plan, linking to data, requirements, etc as it fit; in a similar manner to the little wink I posted in the WikidPad Review.

I added issue and track tags to mark what needed testing and what the results should be. Used attributes to mark certain pages. Reusing Insertions was of great benefit (Insertions in WikidPad are like Included Text, some page that can be re-used in another page)

When I had done all I could in WikiPad I exported it to HTML and posted it for comment from my peers.

Once it gets the green light it will need to migrate to an environment where the actual testing data can be collected and collated.

But overall I was pretty impressed with how the Wiki performed in enabling me to marshal my thoughts. The process going from bare bones (which is what I think you really meant by "outline") to detailed was very smooth. But as was mentioned elsewhere, Wikis really come into their own when there is a lot of previous material that can serendipitously finds its way into your pages because of the Wiki Linking system.

mouser

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Re: Word processors, wikis and other tools for writing business reports
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2008, 09:55:12 AM »
I'd use a proper word processor, no question.

Wiki's are great for when you have multiple people editing, or you want to do detailed history of revisions.  And things like WikiPad may be very useful in keeping heavily hyperlinked notes.

But for preparing a nice business report, where formatting and printing and layout are important -- no question I'd use a word processor.

iphigenie

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Re: Word processors, wikis and other tools for writing business reports
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2008, 11:27:46 AM »
I find that a word processor tool tends to sidetrack me - spend time changing text styles, worrying about page breaks and tweaking the layout (which will break 10 minutes later when i rejig everything for the 10th time, since i move paragraphs around a lot).

So I tend to write in a text editor and add the fancy bits later - or organise my thoughts in an outliner, although i am off outliners at the moment (i just want a clever one that reads my mind and works just like me).

harmonv

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Re: Word processors, wikis and other tools for writing business reports
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2008, 09:59:39 AM »
I use Jarte (www.jarte.com) for initial text entry and layout.  then for the finished product, I'll use Open Office.  Jarte is a free Wordpad replacement with more power and a bunch of thoughtful features.  It has a very clean interface with features far beyond wordpad (spell checker, etc.)
« Last Edit: February 08, 2008, 08:02:48 AM by harmonv »