Storage risk

 

Storage is really a component of technology risk, but is broken out separately here because of its importance. If you have ever had to migrate content from one storage format to another, with the attendant expense, difficulty, and problems, you are probably painfully aware of storage risk. Storage risk refers to the problem of file formats (and not to the actual file storage, such as hard drives or cloud servers). The format in which you choose to encode your content can increase or lower your overall project risk.

First, you must choose between proprietary and open storage formats. XML, for example, is an open standard, and valid XML files are (at least theoretically) portable from one XML editor to another. On the other hand, a proprietary binary format (such as older versions of InDesign or FrameMaker) is typically not portable to any other editing application. The advantage of a proprietary format is generally a better editor; an open format provides more potential flexibility.

Note: These days, the line between proprietary and open is blurring. InDesign, for example, provides InDesign Markup Language (IDML), an XML version of the InDesign binary format. IDML is complex because it includes all of the formatting and page geometry, but it is valid XML and can be processed with XML tools.

You can choose between formats that provide excellent semantic labeling and formats that are easy to understand. HTML, for example, generally falls in the latter category. Most flavors of XML provide better semantics, but are harder to read and understand than basic HTML.

You can store information in a database (and again, you can choose open or proprietary databases) or in flat text files. The former is more powerful; the latter is more portable.

The key questions you have to answer are:

  • Where and how should we store information?
  • How could we move information to a new storage system?

If you choose a tool with a high degree of lock-in, the success of your content strategy is yoked to the success of that vendor.

 

 

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