The Gilbane Advisor

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Category: DITA – Darwin Information Typing Architecture (page 2 of 7)

IXIASOFT Announces DITA CMS v2.6 Availability

IXIASOFT has announced the availability of version 2.6 of its DITA CMS solution. DITA CMS is a content management solution enabling technical communicators to author, manage and publish their DITA content efficiently. The solution’s flexible search tool enable users to find and reuse their DITA topics, images and maps. New features include saving search queries and the exporting of search results. The DITA relationship table editor now has drag and drop capability for creating relations between topics, as well as a relationship overview feature for finding items a topic is linked to. Other new features include– a dependency view (“where-used” feature); the ability to use an external diff tool (in addition to the built-in tool), for xml-aware comparison; drag and drop interface in the map editor for creating maps from search results; and the ability to run certain tasks in the background while the user continues on a different task.

When is a Book Not a Book?

I recently wrote a short Gilbane Spotlight article for the EMC XML community site about the state of Iowa going paperless (article can be found here) in regards to its Administrative Code publication. It got me to thinking, “When is a book no longer a book?”

Originally the admin code was produced as a 10,000 page loose-leaf publication service containing all the regulations of the state. For the last 10 years it has also appeared on the Web as PDFs of pages, and more recently, independent data chunks in HTML. And now they have discontinued the commercial printing of the loose-leaf version and only rely on the electronic versions to inform the public. They still produce PDF pages that resemble the printed volumes that are intended for local printing of select sections by public users of the information. But the electronic HTML version is being enhanced to improve reusability of the content, present it in alternative forms and integrated with related materials, etc. Think mashups and improved search capabilities. The content is managed in an XML-based Single Source Publishing system that produces all output forms.

I have migrated many, many printed publications to XML SSP platforms. Most follow the same evolutionary path regarding how the information is delivered to consumers. First they are printed. Then a second electronic copy is produced simultaneously with the print using separate production processes. Then the data is organized in a single database and reformatted to allow editing that can produce both print and electronic. Eventually the data gets enhanced and possibly broken into chunks to better enable reusing the content, but the print is still a viable output format. Later, the print is discontinued as the subscription list falls and the print product is no longer feasible. Or the electronic version is so much better, that people stop buying the print version.
So back to the original question, is it no longer a book? Is it when you stop printing pages? Or when you stop producing the content in page-oriented PDFs? Or does it have to do with how you manage and store the information?

Other changes take place in how the information is edited, formatted, and stored that might influence the answer to the question. For instance, if the content is still managed as a series of flat files, like chapters, and assembled for print, it seems to me that it is still a book, especially if it still contains content that is very book oriented, like tables of contents and other front matter, indexes, and even page numbers. Eventually, the content may be reorganized as logical chunks stored in a database, extracted for one or more output formats and organized appropriately for each delivery version, as in SSP systems. Print artifacts like TOCs may be completely generated and not stored as persistent objects, or they can be created and managed as build lists or maps (like with DITA). As long as one version is still book-like, IMHO it is still a book.

I would posit that once the printed versions are discontinued, and all electronic versions no longer contain print-specific artifacts, then maybe this is no longer a book, but simply content.

Oxygen XML Editor version 10.3

Syncro Soft Ltd has announced the availability of version 10.3 of its XML Editor and XML Author. Oxygen combines content author features like the CSS driven Visual XML editor with a fully featured XML development environment. It has ready to use support for the main document frameworks DITA, DocBook, TEI and XHTML and also includes support for all XML Schema languages, XSLT/XQuery Debuggers, WSDL analyzer, XML Databases, XML Diff and Merge, Subversion client and more. Version 10.3 of Oxygen XML Editor improves both the XML Authoring and the XML Development capabilities. As a result of user feedback the Oxygen XML Author API was reorganized and extended with additional functionality. There are various improvements to the existing frameworks (DITA, DocBook, TEI, etc.) like automatic ID generation or DITA aware search and replace. A new XML development feature is the Component Dependencies View that presents a tree of component dependencies starting with a specified component for XSLT, XML Schema, Relax NG and NVDL. The new version also integrates the Saxon SA XQuery Update functionality and updates a number of components to their latest versions.

Quark Teams with IBM Enterprise Content Management to Bring XML and DITA to the Masses

Quark announced that it has teamed with IBM Enterprise Content Management (ECM) to enable the broad adoption of XML across the enterprise by integrating Quark XML Author with IBM FileNet Content Manager. Quark makes it possible for any IBM FileNet Content Manager user working in Microsoft Word to author intelligent content that can be reused and delivered to multiple channels or formats. The ability to author, manage, and reuse structured content enables critical business needs, such as managing intellectual property, complying with regulatory mandates, and automating business processes. A simple and streamlined process for XML authoring also helps organizations to enable enterprise-wide adoption of XML and DITA. Quark XML Author for Microsoft Word is an XML authoring tool that allows users to create XML content in a familiar word processing environment. Quark XML Author enhances Microsoft Word’s native XML support by allowing users to create narrative XML documents directly, without seeing tags, being constrained to boxes, or being aware of the technical complexities associated with XML.

New Workshop on Implementing DITA

As part of our Gilbane Onsite Technology Strategy Workshop Series, we are happy to announce a new workshop, Implementing DITA.

Course Description

DITA, the Darwin Information Typing Architecture is an emerging standard for content creation, management, and distribution. How does DITA differ from other XML applications? Will it work for my vertical industry’s content? From technical documentation, to training manuals, from scientific papers to statutory publishing. DITA addresses one of the most challenging aspects of XML implementation, developing a data model that can be user and shared with information partners. Even so, DITA implementation requires effective process, software, and content management strategies to achieve the benefits promised by the DITA business case, cost-effective, reusable content. This seminar will familiarize you with DITA concepts and terminology, describe business benefits, implementation challenges, and best practices for adopting DITA. How DITA enables key business processes will be explored, including content management, formatting & publishing, multi-lingual localization, and reusable open content. Attendees will be able to participate in developing an effective DITA content management strategy.


This is an introductory course suitable for anyone looking to better understand DITA standard, terminology, processes, benefits, and best practices. A basic understanding of computer processing applications and production processes is helpful. Familiarity with XML concepts and publishing helpful, but not required. No programming experience required.

Topics Covered

  • The Business Drivers for DITA Adoption

  • DITA Concepts and Terminology

  • The DITA Content Model

  • Organizing Content with DITA Maps

  • Processing, Storing & Publishing DITA Content

  • DITA Creation, Management & Processing Tools

  • Multi-lingual Publishing with DITA

  • Extending DITA to work with Other Data Standards

  • Best Practices & Pitfalls for DITA Implementation

For more information and to customize a workshop just for your organization, please contact Ralph Marto by email or at +617.497.9443 x117

Podcast on Structured Content in the Enterprise

Traditionally, the idea of structured content has always been associated with product documentation, but this is beginning to change. Featuring Bill Trippe, Lead Analyst at The Gilbane Group, and Bruce Sharpe, XMetaL Founding Technologist at JustSystems, a brand new podcast on The Business Value of Structured Content takes a look into why many companies are beginning to realize that structured content is more than just a technology for product documentation – it’s a means to add business value to information across the whole enterprise. 

From departmental assets such as marketing website content, sales training materials, or technical support documents, structured content can be used to grow revenue, reduce costs, and mitigate risks, ultimately leading to an improved customer experience.  

Listen to the podcast and gain important insight on how structured content can

  • break through the boundaries of product documentation
  • help organizations meet high user expectations for when and where they can access content
  • prove to be especially valuable in our rough economic times
  • …and more!

Adobe Launches Technical Communication Suite 2

Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) announced the Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2 software, an upgrade of its solution for authoring, reviewing, managing, and publishing rich technical information and training content across multiple channels. Using the suite, technical communicators can create documentation, training materials and Web-enabled user assistance containing both traditional text and 3D designs along with rich media, including Adobe Flash Player compatible video, AVI, MP3 and SWF file support. The enhanced suite includes Adobe FrameMaker 9, the latest version of Adobe’s technical authoring and DITA publishing solution, Adobe RoboHelp 8, a major upgrade to Adobe’s help system and knowledge base authoring tool, Adobe Captivate 4, an upgrade to Adobe’s eLearning authoring tool, and Photoshop CS4, a new addition to the suite. The suite also includes Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended and Adobe Presenter 7. Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2 is a complete solution that offers improved productivity along with support for standards-based authoring including support for Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA), an XML-based standard for authoring, producing and delivering technical information. It enables the creation of rich content and publishing through multiple channels, including XML/HTML, print, PDF, WSF, WebHelp, Adobe FlashHelp, Microsoft HTML Help, OracleHelp, JavaHelp and Adobe AIR. FrameMaker 9 offers a new user interface. It supports hierarchical books and DITA 1.1, and makes it easier to author topic-based content. In addition, FrameMaker 9 provides a capability to aggregate unstructured, structured and DITA content in a seamless workflow. Using a PDF based review workflow, authors can import and incorporate feedback. Adobe RoboHelp 8 allows technical communicators to author XHTML-compliant professional help content. The software also supports Lists and Tables, a new CSS editor, Pages and Templates, and a new search functionality. The Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2 is immediately available in North America. Estimated street price for the suite is US$1899. FrameMaker 9, RoboHelp 8 and Captivate 4 are available as standalone products as well. Estimated street price for FrameMaker 9 and RoboHelp 8 is US$999 for each, US$799 for Captivate 4.

JustSystems Revs XMetaL Author Enterprise for Documentum Webtop

JustSystems announced XMetaL Author Enterprise for Documentum Webtop now supports Documentum ECM 6.5 and Windows Vista, and has new usability features and quality enhancements. XMetaL Author Enterprise for Documentum Webtop is designed for full-time content creators who require a desktop authoring application supported by the Documentum content repository features including seamless search, link management and navigation capabilities. The latest enhancements include: Documentum ECM 6.5 support – Now supports Documentum ECM 6.5 SP1 and continues to support Documentum ECM 6 SP1; Windows Vista compatibility – Now compatible with Windows Vista in addition to continued compatibility with Windows XP.; New operations – From the docbase tree-view in XMetaL Author Enterprise for Documentum Webtop, users can now create new folders or documents-from-a-template, or initiate import operations by simply right-clicking on the item in the docbase tree-view; Quality enhancements – Now offers improved DITA authoring, with quality enhancements to file check-in operations, reusable component creation, and DITA operations. The latest version of XMetaL Author Enterprise for Documentum Webtop is available today.

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