Evangelizing Automated Publishing in Your Organization

Understand whether DITA is useful, desirable, or beneficial for the wide variety of documentation projects that you must support today.

When we begin the effort to pursue a move to an XML-based automated publishing system, we run into a lot of roadblocks from our staff, our peers, our management, both inside and outside our organizations. We’ve seen the trade publications. We’ve seen the value propositions. We’ve seen a cursory evaluation of the DITA website and specification. But we don’t really know anything about it. In the beginning, we have no experience with it. It’s hard enough to take the first steps toward a funded project, but the last thing we need is for someone else to be able to shred the analysis with little or no effort.

What changes that? Evidence. Experience. Evangelism.

Today, one of the prime reasons that technical publications organizations are pursuing XML authoring systems instead of binary desktop publishing (DTP) systems is to take advantage of the cost savings gained by the separation of form and content. DITA provides for the same model at the application level: the separation of form and function (or data format and data manipulation).

In fact, DITA presents an unprecedented opportunity for cost-effectiveness: learn to explain how DITA releases data from proprietary restrictions (format, storage, or vendor) and moves it into an open standard, open-source type of structure — and why this matters. Data in the DITA format can be used, copied, studied, modified, and redistributed by means of hundreds of tools available from COTS vendors today often without charge or for the marginal cost of distribution.

This presentation gives you the tools to explain how documentation has changed over the last 30 years, and how DITA helps not just today but protects your investment in the future. Learn how to explain why DITA represents significant advance in technology to people outside the industry (TechPubs). Be able to explain why DITA helps you leverage your resources in order to increase the overall effectiveness. New technology comes along every day, but a move to DITA isn’t about technology for technology’s sake. It’s about innovation, collaboration, and potential for new markets, new audiences, new products, and, ultimately, new customers.

Learn how to explain why DITA alleviates the need for the continual conversion of legacy data. Understand how to explain the additional value that DITA offers as a long-term replacement to existing proprietary authoring tools. The issue is not whether DITA is better than other available authoring systems (Docbook, S1000D), but whether it is useful, desirable, or beneficial for the wide variety of documentation projects that you must support today.

 

Presented by: Liz Fraley, Single-Sourcing Solutions, Inc.

 Presentation materials:

Content Reduction and Reuse in a Multichannel Publishing Environment

Reusing and repurposing content is all about improving efficiency

It all comes down to managing and reusing source. Recycling content (chapters, graphics, etc.) is not new. What is new here is the common set of back-end structure in XML form and the fact that more than one set of tools–including small, mission critical custom tools–are explicitly focused on the specific needs of a given project.

Reusing and repurposing content is all about improving efficiency: automating, accelerating, and merging applications, systems, and processes. In a multichannel publishing environment, it is critical that content development–source development–and its management are as efficient as possible. At its base, we’re talking about reusing authored source content chunks. This means modular writing, link management, and metadata to control variable content within a book, across books, across releases or product lines, or across audiences. Multichannel publishing adds yet another dimension to the content.

Stylesheets are one method for controlling multichannel publishing. They can operate on data contained within the source content or provided by external information. Stylesheet authoring and design can benefit from the same modular writing strategies used for content development. Stylesheets can also be modularized, improving maintenance across publishing channels.

What happens when you decide to include the data leveraged from engineering and business systems? How do you maintain the same strategies with generated content? Should you even try? Content can be generated directly from software source code (API library files, man pages, error messages), business systems (bug databases, project management systems, legal), and engineering data files (CAD data, diagnostics). But how can this data be efficiently integrated into a multichannel environment?

How do you determine guidelines for content reuse in all these situations? It comes down to the intersection content reuse and effort reduction. CAN you do it? Maybe. Do you WANT to? That depends a lot on who is answering the question and why they’re motivated to do it at all (or unmotivated, sometimes). SHOULD you? That’s the hard one. It always comes down to cost versus benefit. This presentation will focus on the point where these intersect.

This presentation will serve people already working in documentation and single-sourcing environments the tools to determine the answers to these questions–“what gets done?” and “how far to go?”–up front. For people in engineering and project management, it will help them understand what benefits their organizations can gain through efficiencies gained at the places that their systems intersect the others. Together, understanding repurposing and reusing content in can save people a lot of wasted effort, time, and money because it eliminates the problem of “invisible assumptions.”

Presented by:  Liz Fraley, Single-Sourcing Solutions, Inc.

Presented At:

  • PTC/User World Event
  • East Bay STC
  • Intermountain Chapter of the STC
  • Silicon Valley STC.

Presentation Materials: