Tools play an important role in how we write and organize content. Every tool encapsulates certain ideas about content organization and information architecture. This may not have been obvious when we were producing books because the design and architecture of books was so standardized and conventional that every tools essentially had the same model. Now, however, we have a variety of tools that encapsulate significantly different approaches to content organization and information architecture. If you want to create an information architecture that is different from the one your tools was designed for, you may need to put significant conscious effort into how to achieve that new architecture with your existing tool – or else change to a tool better suited to the architecture you want to create.
Most of the tools that technical writers have traditionally used, whether it be unstructured tools like Word, FrameMaker, or help-authoring tools, or structured vocabularies such as DocBook and DITA, were designed for top-down information architecture. We also have unstructured bottom-up tools available to us in the form of wikis and blogging platforms such as WordPress. This third session in the Information Architecture Bottom-up series will look at how various tools impact content design and information architecture and will introduce you to SPFE (“Spiffy”), a structured approach to writing and organizing content with a bottom-up information architecture.