Your customers can find content, but can your content creation team? DITA content explodes. How do you manage it?
A lot of customers have been asking us recently about how they're going to manage content that explodes into lots and lots of little topics and content fragments. Authors wonder if they're creating too many topics. They wonder how they're going to find the content they need to include in their future content packages. They're afraid they'll be duplicating content because they can't find it, subverting that reuse goal that took them down this path. And they just can't imagine how they're going to remember where everything is or even what everything they have.
It's a valid and serious concern. And, coincidentally, it's one of the pressure points that pushes authors back into the book paradigm. They become focused on the number of files they're generating rather than examining the contents of the topic as a stand-alone, coherant, and complete entity at a time when that is already a difficult concept.
Most people think that solution to this problem is a "content management system." We think that's only part of the answer. Are authors tagging content with metadata? Are they doing it consistently across the team? Are the metadata tags standarized and do they have definitions? Are the metadata tags aimed at the end user (your customer) or at the authoring team (the content creators)?
There are lots of things you can do to improve the lives of the authors and content creators beyond the basics that any CMS provides. That's probably because we have a librarian as part of our team. Librarians know how to put any book on any topic on the shelf such that the expert in the field can find it and use it. You don't have to be an expert in order to to shelve. You need to be an expert in shelving (cataloging and categorization).
In fact, we have a presentation we give. It's based on workshop we developed with our librarian to help customers develop the best cataloguing system for the content in their content management system. It's something that a lot of people forget to do. We remember to index, tag, and develop taxonomies for our users, but they forget about for the authors. We don't.
If you want to see what metadata looks like from a librarian's perspective, come to TC Camp in January and take our workshop or just view the three-part video: "Concepts and Techniques of Library Science." Pretty soon you, too, will be thinking like a librarian and applying categorization strategies to technical content.
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