Automating the technical writing process
I have been working fairly hard in my free time on two "free web books" for my main we site. In the past I have simply created PDF files and made them available for my site. Although I write my "free web books" using a Creative Commons license, I decided that I wanted to make at least a small revenue stream so that I can spend more time on these projects. My plan has been to have all of my web books readable for free online with a small Google Adsense advertisement at the beginning of each chapter and offer through lulu.com the ability to buy PDFs with no advertising for a few dollars or get a printed book for about $12.
I would prefer spending my time writing rather than preparing HTML, PDF, and printer ready PDF. I think that I now have this process automated about as fully as I can, using custom Ruby code, shell scripting, and a "do everything" Makefile. I had experimented with using OpenOffice.org and writing some utilities to modify the generated HTML. I also experimented with the very cool SiSU system.
In the end, I went back to automating my writing setup using Latex, htlatex, pdflatex, custom Ruby code and shell scripts, and the OS X Latex editor TexShop. It feels good to get things working "just right".