Q: Design document authoring tool

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (sentience@pobox.com)
Date: Tue Apr 30 2002 - 19:39:19 MDT

I'm looking for a tool for systems analysis. Not a CASE tool; there's no
intention of generating code. What I need is a tool for generating design
documents: I need to create multiple hierarchies of topics, where some (in
fact most) topics appear in many hierarchies; I need to write extended
documents under each topic using ordinary word processing; and I need to
create named relations between topics, where the relations may also contain
their own subdocuments but are not forced to do so. The tool must not hold
my data hostage - there must be some way to print it as a single document
with chapters, and ideally some way to export the underlying data as XML.

This looks to me like a pretty simple writing tool by comparison with
today's expensive meta-CASE tools and so on, but I don't think I need much
over and above outlining. I've overrun my ability to keep track of things
using outlining in flat documents, but that's the only problem - I don't
need software that "helps me think", just software that lets me write very
large descriptions and navigate easily between linked topics that appear in
multiple hierarchies. I don't need 2D mindmapping views; list views of the
relations for a topic and expandable outline views for the hierarchies will
do just fine.

I expect to spend most of my time writing the topics - the tool's main
purpose is to keep me from losing track of all the topics. So I'm looking
for a tool that offers some reasonable subset of word-processing
functionality for the topics, rather than a tool that assumes I'll spend
most of my time manipulating networks and hierarchies, with "notes" added as

Does anyone have suggestions for a tool that does this, hopefully an
inexpensive one? Failing that, does anyone know which search terms would
describe this kind of tool? Feel free to answer privately.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky http://intelligence.org/
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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