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One of the hardest things for technical communicators moving into an XML authoring environment is that you're learning two things at once: A new UI and a new technology. In this session, we're going to take a step back and walk through the Editor UI. There are a lot of features right at your fingertips that make it easy to get started. We'll show them to you and give you a chance to see Arbortext Editor in a neutral context.

About the presenter

JLS_Portrait100x100Janice Summers, Single-Sourcing Solutions, specializes in helping people who’ve only ever used unstructured desktop publishing applications learn structured authoring. She’s been successfully transitioning Word users to XML authoring for the last 15 years and hasn’t lost anyone yet! She's the author of “Arbortext for Authoring: An Author's Guide to Getting Started with Arbortext Editor” (available on Amazon). 

Watch the Video

Recorded: January 2014

This bonus video is available for free.

Transcript (Expand to View)

[00:00:05.160] - Janice Summers

Hello and welcome to Single-Sourcing Solutions TC Dojo. We’re about to get started, Today's topic is "Arbortext Editor: So Easy A Child Can Do It." 

[00:00:18.440] - Janice Summers

Oftentimes we get asked if Editor is easy enough for the average or lay person to use. So the typical scenario is you've got a tech pubs group that is either in structured authoring or they're moving to structured authoring so they understand the benefits of XML already and they get why they're doing what they're doing. But they also have people who don't fit into, they have a group of writers that don't fit into the typical tech pubs group, these writers could be geologists or other scientists or engineers or financial analysts. You know, perhaps they're in the pharma industry or in the medical device industry and these content collaborators and key contributors are subject matter experts. So they have a portion of authoring that they do, but technical publications is not their world. So the benefit of XML they don't really understand or is it really that important to them because their focus is on their area of expertise. 

[00:01:30.170] - Janice Summers

So, what do you do in the situation where you understand XML you're moving to structured authoring, you have structured authoring and you want the content to come back to you in a usable format, so that makes things easier for you to incorporate their contribution into the final publication. 

[00:01:50.520] - Janice Summers

So that's why people ask us, is editor easy to use? Now, oftentimes these people, they've all used Word. I mean, I can't think of anyone who's in the work world today who does not use Word.

[00:02:03.780] - Janice Summers

It's pretty pervasive. It's ... An entire generation has actually been raised using office productivity tools. I've seen lesson plans as early as second grade, and perhaps there's some that go even lower than that. But they start them out young and they teach them Microsoft Word on how to open and close and how to edit content, how to add content, how to add graphics, what not, how to format their document and then how to save it out. 

[00:02:35.340] - Janice Summers

So it's no wonder that we're very comfortable with these tools. Because they're so pervasive and they're copied almost everywhere, even in a lot of the e-mail systems, right? It mirrors a lot of what's done in these productivity tools and that's what productivity tools should be, they should make it enjoyable. It should be easy to use. You shouldn't have to fight with the tools that you're using, because otherwise, those tools aren't for you then. And you should be, it should make it more enjoyable it really should, you should be able to focus on your content and your core objectives of your role and responsibilities and not have to worry about tools. 

[00:03:25.240] - Janice Summers

So how do they stack up? How does Editor stack up to a tool like Microsoft Word? So I took a screenshot here and on the top, you'll see this is Arbortext editor, and right underneath it is the screenshot, but when you open up Microsoft Word. So you can see they have icons, we have icons, they have dropdown menus, we have dropdown menus and in fact, a lot of the icons are shared. They're similar amongst these 2 tools. So you can see immediately there's going to be some comfort. There's going to be some familiarity as soon as you open it up so they can rest assured and not be as fearful of learning a new tool.

[00:04:08.770] - Janice Summers

But this is where things get very different because unlike Word, in Arbortext we separate that content from the final output. So what you see on the screen is not what you get in the published output or when you hit print.

[00:04:24.490] - Janice Summers

Unlike in Word, in Word what you see on that screen is what you're going to get when you hit print. If you change your color, it's going to change on the output, if you change font size, font family, it's going to change on the output. 

[00:04:40.480] - Janice Summers

But in Editor, all of those formatting issues are automatic. There's actually even generated text that's created so they don't have to worry about filling in all the details. 

[00:04:53.020] - Janice Summers

They really can focus as an author or contributor, you can really focus on the content, which is the core of your responsibility--is the content of what you're authoring. So it should make your life a lot easier. 

[00:05:07.570] - Janice Summers

So let's take a look at Editor a little deeper. 

[00:05:13.750] - Janice Summers

Oh, one more note, this separating form from content is actually honestly the biggest hurdle to overcome. Oftentimes, the first frustrations that I hear when people are using Editor is, well I changed it in my screen how come it doesn't look like that when I publish or they're frustrated because they're entering information, but they don't see what it's going to look like. So that really is a hurdle that you do have to overcome, honestly, but it's worth overcoming. 

[00:05:50.950] - Janice Summers

So now let's take a look at Editor from a novice perspective, just from the contributor collaborator, you know, there's some key things that we do in Word every day or in Office productivity tools every day that we're comfortable with right, things like bolding and italics and bullets and editing content and inserting a paragraph. These are standard basic things that everyone's going to do over and over and over again in any tool that they're using, especially if they're using it for authoring. The infamous copy, cut and paste, priceless right? these functions are priceless and we all know Ctrl C, Ctrl X, and Ctrl V and my favorite, the "opps I shouldn't have done that" Ctrl Z to undo my last step or steps.

[00:06:40.150] - Janice Summers

You can do search and replace, you can put in tables, you can actually select your columns and rows, how many do you want? You can do some formatting, some minor formatting things in there and graphics, right and the nice thing about graphics is you don't have to worry about formatting graphics or resizing them. That's done automatically. 

[00:07:05.490] - Janice Summers

So let's take a look, let's actually open up Editor right now. So I have a sample document, this is out of the box Docbook sample from PTC and let's go through our list and see how we go about executing it from, again, from a novice perspective. So the first thing we talked about is Bold. I want to be able to Bold content so simple, I can highlight content and I simply go to the icon and I select Bold (oops, sorry, I double clicked accidentally) and it will bold my content for me, so you can see that that's Bolded now. 

[00:07:47.870] - Janice Summers

OK, Italics again, just as easy, let's highlight some text and say I want that italicized done, no problem and what about underlining, if I want to underline for emphasis, well, there you go, there's the icon and now my text is underlined. Pretty simple, so now what if I want to edit content by adding more information in here, right? So let's go ahead and go and type new material,  I'm just keeping it on all caps so I can see what's new. Type new material, and if I want to delete part, I can go ahead and highlight that and hit delete, done it's gone. 

[00:08:36.680] - Janice Summers

Now, what if I wanted to insert some content in there? So let's highlight some text, we'll just take it and Ctrl C. Just like we would in Word, go up to where we want to put it up here in the paragraph and we'll just go ahead and say Ctrl V and it pasted it in. So there's the new content that we've inserted. 

[00:09:00.410] - Janice Summers

Now, what about if I've done something incorrectly or I didn't intend to put that there? I can hit Ctrl Z and it will remove that content, that insertion it will remove that last step. You can actually hit Ctrl Z and it will remove steps so you can keep hitting Ctrl Z to back out of all the steps, pretty easy. 

[00:09:28.000] - Janice Summers

What if I wanted to copy and paste an entire paragraph? Let's take this paragraph and we'll say Ctrl C and we're just going to go ahead and put it right here, and Ctrl V and there you go, we've added a new paragraph, pretty simple, another way to add a new paragraph is this paragraph insertion so we can insert a paragraph here and we can type information, and this is our new paragraph. 

[00:10:06.150] - Janice Summers

Pretty easy, let's see, what about search and replace? So we have this icon, very familiar icon for everybody to find and replace or we have the dropdown find, which has other options for us. So I'm just going to go to find and replace because that's all I care about at an Office level. And I'm going to go ahead and type in the word, I want to find all the occurrences of PTC and replace it with Wiggles. OK, so I could either find next or replace all, I'm just going to select replace all and found all those occurrences, and I just say, OK. So if we close this out, we can see where Wiggles (misspelled and all) it's in there you can see it's highlighting the misspelling, right. So there's actually a spell check in here, and I can say change also to fix my typo there we go and close that. OK, so we see Wiggles University instead of PTC University, so everywhere where PTC showed up is now Wiggles everywhere in the document, even up here in the title. OK, pretty easy, not too difficult. 

[00:11:32.140] - Janice Summers

What about tables? So let's insert a table, just go ahead and go to the drop-down menu and here is your request insert table or you can do alt+shift+T

[00:11:51.490] - Janice Summers

The one thing I do want to pause here a moment and say is there are many paths to get to where you want to go in Arbortext, in any of the tools. It allows for individual comfort. Some people are more comfortable using function keys some people are more comfortable with the dropdown, we all find our own shortcuts on how to get our jobs done. The more familiar we've become with the tool, it allows us to work in a way that we feel more productive, so same thing with Arbortext Editor. There's many ways to get there. This is just one way and I'm showing you from a novice perspective, but there are lots of other ways to do this.

[00:12:39.900] - Janice Summers

So we've got a simple informal table. I'm going to go ahead and create a number of rows so we have a bit to play with here, and a number of columns, so it'll have some substance here and I'll just say, OK, and look it inserted the table where I asked it to insert it. We have a very simple table, so if we wanted to go ahead and span some cells, we can do that, it's very easy, simply highlight the cells and we've got some hotkeys here, some hot buttons for taking action inside of the tables, these are specific for the table and I can say span those and let's say we span these. Now, if I did this in error and I don't want this spanned, I actually can easily undo it with that. There you go, pretty simple, not a whole lot to do here and then when you're ready to enter in your content, you can just click into the cell, and type in your content and they will show up in the cell. 

[00:13:55.190] - Janice Summers

OK, you don't have to worry about color, you don't have to worry about font, you don't have to worry about size of text in here and all of that, because all of that can be done with a stylesheet.

[00:14:05.660] - Janice Summers

So all you have to focus on as a content contributor or collaborator is that your content is correct. And then it's going into the cell that you intend it to go into. That's all you have to worry about. All right, so that covers tables. 

[00:14:24.140] - Janice Summers

What about graphics? So let's go again to our insert drop-down menu and we see graphic. So let's go ahead and select graphic and we'll just pick any graphic to go in there, I like this little guy, we'll put him in there. So now we've inserted a graphic. I only have to worry about sizing the graphic because styler is going to take care of this. I just have to make sure it's the right graphic. Again, I let go of formatting and allow it to automatically happen in the final output. 

[00:15:01.710] - Janice Summers

OK, wow, so let's see, we've covered... Oh, bullet, we haven't covered bullets yet, so let's see how we add bullets.

[00:15:15.280] - Janice Summers

So I want to go ahead and I'll copy this, because I want to repeat a couple of paragraphs so we've got at least three paragraphs, let's do one more just for good measure, just give us some space, OK. So say this is actually I want to create list items and I want an ordered list. Very simple to do numeric list and that will order the list. I want to add to my ordered list. I can add an additional item to the list, but it's non numbered that I have to say, I want this paragraph also part of this ordered list, it automatically assumes that it's a subordinate to the bullet above it, and that's OK, you can just go ahead and very easily promote that item. 

[00:16:15.710] - Janice Summers

Pretty quick and easy doesn't take a whole lot of work, so the content is showing up. I just want to make sure that it's attached to this list above it. So I'm going to go ahead and promote that. And I can see where it's automatically numbering the sequence for me. Now, say this actually really is a subordinate to this one. Very easily, you can go in here and move that down a level and it'll make it subordinate to this numeric list item above it. And so doing bulleted list is just as easy, just click on the paragraph anywhere in here, actually, and we'll take this entire paragraph and make it into a bulleted item. So that's pretty straightforward. Bullets are pretty straight forward, so let's say we've seen everything on here. I think we've covered Bold, Italics, Bullet, editing content and inserting a paragraph, and it's all very simple, we've managed to cover this rather rapidly. But you can see how easy it is to use from a novice perspective right. 

[00:17:28.440] - Janice Summers

Now, what about when you get a little bit more comfortable? So you get a little bit more comfortable with the tool, you can actually change your editing environment to suit your preference. You can change colors. You can change font size, you can make it a little bit more on your own. In Word you can't do that because in a word, whatever change you do, changes the output.

[00:17:53.130] - Janice Summers

It doesn't allow for individuality in my editing environment. So if I perhaps need to make the text a little bit larger, it's not as easy to do in Word. Split windows so you can see a document tree. In Word you can't do that 'what tree?' it doesn't understand a split window. Where we would consider a split window in authoring. 

[00:18:22.930] - Janice Summers

Moving content chunks in Editor, I can move entire chunks, large or small, all around in the document, I can reorder things if I need to very rapidly just by dragging and dropping it where I'm allowed to drop it and where I want it to go. You can't do that in Word. You can copy, cut and paste, but it's not even close to what I'm talking about when I say I can move entire chunks of content. In Editor, I can do with tags on or off doesn't matter if I'm not comfortable looking at tags, I can turn them off and never see them. In Word, 'what tags?' It doesn't really allow you that. Even if you save it as an XML document, it's not a native one. So there's going to be muck that comes along with it that you're going to have to strip out and possibly have to re-author in order to get it into a true XML tool. So you still got that challenge with that import-export, right? 

[00:19:24.070] - Janice Summers

So let's take a look in real-time and see what I'm talking about. So here we see the one window typically, right? So this is if I'm a novice, I want to open up a document, I just see the document and this is where I'm comfortable. But if I'm getting a little bit more comfortable, there's icons up here that allow me to actually split the window so I can split that window and I see on this side, this is actually an outline of my entire publication here. This is everything in the document and I can navigate on this side if I wanted to. I can expand and collapse from here quite rapidly. I can move things around, so let's talk about moving things around.

[00:20:08.250] - Janice Summers

I could do it from this side, but most people, it takes not very long, I think, within a week and everybody usually has at least the split-screen going and they're all pretty confident working in this tree. But I can take an entire paragraph, let's just take this opening paragraph and I can move this if I want to. So if we see I just take this and I can drag it. Now we see how this little round circle showed up just next to the cursor with a red line through it. This means that I cannot put this paragraph here, it's not allowed. Again, Editor will block you from doing things that you're not allowed to do, things that would make it invalid. It will only allow you to do what you're allowed to do. I can move the paragraph down here. See, I've got a green checkmark. So that paragraph is actually allowed here. So let's just drop it here and we can see where this paragraph is now inserted at the end of all of these lists because that's where it was allowed to be. Now, if I didn't need to do that, I can hit my Ctrl Z and it will revert back to where the document was before I made that change. So I've just relocated the paragraph back up. 

[00:21:25.860] - Janice Summers

So you can do this with larger, as I said before, you can do this with larger chunks of data. 

[00:21:32.060] - Janice Summers

So let's take this entire chapter, and that's a pretty large chunk of content. Right now, it's chapter number two is the challenge for Wiggles University. So let's take this entire chapter and move it quite easily. So we've selected it, it can't go there, where can I go? So as soon as I see the checkmark, I know I can drop it, so if I want to reorder the chapters and I want to put the challenge for Wiggles after the traditional approach, there you go, and it renumbered the chapters. So while we're looking at it, these numbers are actually in funny green. These are generated texts. I don't have to add these chapter numbers. This is automatically done. This is part of the formatting that's done automatically that I don't ever have to think about, just like in numbering the ordered list.

[00:22:37.810] - Janice Summers

Now, one of the things we talked about was personal preferences. Well, I can actually change this environment to what I like, what I feel more comfortable with. So let's say for that generated text, I don't like that green, it drives me nuts and I want to change it to a different color so I can go in here and I can pick any color I want, and that will actually--so if we watch these--that will change the color for me. So personally, say I, you know, this is visually easier for me to comprehend. It won't change the output at all, but it does change my view. For me. So it allows me to personally, to personalize my environment to something I'm more comfortable with. 

[00:23:27.520] - Janice Summers

Now, say I need to see this enlarged, and we talked about increasing font size earlier. So let's increase this font size so it makes it easier, perhaps I have a small screen or I have visual problems and I need larger font, I can change this font size very easily and it won't change the output at all. It only changes my environment.

[00:23:50.920] - Janice Summers

  1. So, I've showed you a brief look at some of the things that you can do to personalize the environment. We took a look at some of the things that people tend to gravitate towards when they become a little bit more comfortable. So we looked at the editing environment, splitting the window, moving content chunks...

[00:24:15.220] - Janice Summers

Ohh tags, tags on or off. Oh! Here we've been doing all this editing and authoring and never once did we look at tags. So while we've been, remember when we bolded and we italicize and we underlined and we added list items, we added ordered list and unordered lists and we added graphics and we added a table. We did all this work up here. Never once did we enter or use or modify. We were not looking at XML tags when we were doing it. However, if I'm comfortable with that, I can turn them on and you can see where automatically that's been done for me. So if I'm not comfortable with looking at tags, I can edit an author without ever seeing a tag. This is the biggest concern, I think, for people because they're afraid that tags will overwhelm people who are just contributing or collaborating. So you have the option of turning them off and you're still writing XML without ever knowing one tag. It's just done automatically behind the scenes. 

[00:25:26.860] - Janice Summers

OK, so let's go back here and make sure we've covered everything in here and how easy it is. So hopefully you've been able to see that really, honestly, using Editor is so easy a child could do it. 

[00:25:42.950] - Janice Summers

When you look at the advantages it's really easy to see that the slight discomfort you may have in learning and letting go of some outdated habits far outweighs the discomfort. Right? So the ease and the benefits are priceless in comparison. You've got increased efficiency, so there's no need to import-export, so there's no need to fix formatting issues when you send out a Word template, does it ever come back the same? The answer is NO, rarely. Oftentimes those things could change and you have to fix it. The focus for the authors becomes their contact with their subject matter and not on formatting. They don't need to worry about formatting. So you're going to have a consistency and output style because the final output is not dictated by Editor at all. It's controlled by the styler and the DTD that works behind the scenes. 

[00:26:44.510] - Janice Summers

Right? Another thing that I didn't really touch on too much, but actually I didn't touch at all... You can even create an authoring environment that is like a form. It's almost like a form. It's a template that they can use to insert this type of information here, put blah, blah here. So you can actually create a form type of template for them if they're creating a new document. We were just showing editing and existing document and that might be really helpful if they're creating a new document. You future proof your content, in Editor, everything is XML standards-based, its human-readable. When you think about all of the content, remember an old tool called WordPerfect? It was a prolific tool. Years ago, I think it really took off in the legal community and they still have legacy content locked in WordPerfect, trying to find an old computer that has an old copy of WordPerfect that they can open it on. Good luck with that. With a native XML, it's human-readable, you can use Wordpad, you can use any XML and Word tool to open up the document so you don't have to worry about legacy data conversion.

[00:28:02.190] - Janice Summers

And easing compilation, the final output, you pull it all together, it's all XML, it's all XML. It comes together without a fuss, seamlessly. And another note, a little side note, see if there is any questions. Another side note is I was talking with someone the other day who also attends the TC Dojo on a fairly regular basis. We're having a conversation, he just recently took a new position at a company. He just joined them not too long ago, and he had several years of Arbortext experience already behind him. So he knew the advantages of structured authoring and XML and the benefits for the company. So that helped a great deal, so he came into an environment where everybody knew Word, they were all very comfortable with Word and everybody knew Word, but he focused on training them and he understood that Editor is so easy, even a child can use it. The key was in how you train them and how you teach people the tool so that they can become successful. And the training that he focused on, he got people who had never been in a professional editing tool before. He got them in there functioning and flourishing with great confidence inside of a week. So it didn't take long and they were paddling around and tags as if they've always been doing this sort of thing and XML was just no big deal, they totally understood it and that was all in the training. Now luckily, he joined the training, he was in the training department, so he really understood the emphasis of training and that makes all the difference in the world.

[00:29:48.030] - Janice Summers

So if you--I don't see any questions. So if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us. I'm sorry, I noticed there's a digit missing on the phone number I'll have to fix that on the next slide. But here's our email, you can always find us on single-sourcing.com as well. 

[00:30:05.110] - Janice Summers

OK, so we'll go ahead and see what we've got up next in queue for the next open session, visualizing data with Phylise Banner. She is a guest presenter, I hope you all sign up to attend this. There's your registration link. 

[00:30:22.030] - Janice Summers

You can also vote, don't forget, you can vote on future upcoming topics, you can suggest topics and there's the link for you there. 

[00:30:32.770] - Janice Summers

The next Arbortext edition, we're going to be talking about managing side by side contexts. This is going to be a styler talk that should be a lot of fun. I think Liz going to be leading that one. And the registration link is there for you. 

[00:30:47.420] - Janice Summers

OK, the next TPC Affinity Group, we missed the January because we were busy with TC Camp, but the next one is coming up Monday, February 24th and there's the registration tcdojo.org if you want to join 

[00:31:06.140] - Janice Summers

OK, so thank you for attending, hope to see you next time. Don't forget to vote. TC Dojo is all about you. So we'd like to hear what you want to learn about in tech pubs in general or in Arbortext specific. And there's the link, thank you again.

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