A few years ago, this post on Create Once Publish Anywhere (COPE) opened my eyes to the possibilities of separating the content and form of documents (link here). I’ve recently been sitting through a number of Enterprise Content Management Systems demos and have found myself again thinking of what is needed to create a COPE environment.
The biggest problem I have with the products I have been seeing is that they still focus on document management. Sure, they allow version control and the check in/out of these documents. But, when I save a document in a new format, it becomes a new document to manage.
I don’t understand why there isn’t a focus on creating reusable objects instead of documents. Separate the content from the format, to create an object that offers unformatted content (whatever that may be). This object could then be pushed to whichever format is needed…i.e. Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, Webpage, Mobile/Tablet, etc. Best of all, when the original object is edited and updated, the changes would be blasted to the corresponding formats. As a programmer, creating reusable snippets of code is thought of as highly efficient, why can’t I do the same thing with my written/visual content?