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Extracting deliverables from DITA

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  • 1. Extracting deliverables from DITA Sarah O'Keefe Scriptorium Publishing
  • 2. Preliminary notes You should be hearing the presenter's audio at this point. All participants are muted. Use the Questions tab in the GoToWebinar control panel to ask questions anytime during the session. The webcast is being recorded. No participant information appears in the recording. The Q&A period at the end of the event will not be recorded.
  • 3. Poll: What is your DITA status?
  • 4. DITA deliverable categories HTML PDF Custom output Flickr: freewine
  • 5. HTML output options DITA Open Toolkit Various help authoring/conversion tools Flare RoboHelp ePublisher Pro DITA2GO
  • 6. DITA Open Toolkit process Install the DITA Open Toolkit (!) Java Ant XSL processor XSL-FO processor (for PDF) Possibly other bits and pieces Modify component files to get the output you want Generate output from the command line
  • 7. Help authoring tools Set up template/configuration Import DITA content (optionally) Make changes in the help authoring tool Publish to HTML
  • 8. About those last-minute changes… The traditional authoring/publishing model allows them. The automated publishing model eliminates them. The transition to the “no tweaking” mindset can be painful. What are the costs and benefits?
  • 9. The DITA Open Toolkit is the best choice for HTML. Light customization with CSS In-depth customization with XSL No arbitrary formatting Complete automation Flickr: bobistraveling
  • 10. The special case: WebHelp WebHelp = HTML-based help system with tripane interface (content, index, search) No support in DITA Open Toolkit (custom build of tripane interface required) Commercial support via XMetaL, Flare, Trisoft, ePublisher Pro, DITA2GO, and perhaps others Balance DITA Open Toolkit customization effort against license costs
  • 11. PDF options DITA Open Toolkit Page layout applications Others Flickr: freewine
  • 12. PDF publishing is hard because: Printed page layouts have more options than HTML layouts. Extensible Stylesheet Language Formatting Objects (XSL-FO) needs to support sophisticated page layout options. Pushing XML into page layout tools is challenging. Automation means giving up page-by-page formatting.
  • 13. Poll: The five stages of DITA-based PDF publishing What's your stage?
  • 14. Please choose one of the following terrifying options: DITA Open Toolkit Page-based layout tool FrameMaker InDesign Quark Help authoring/conversion tool RoboHelp ePublisher Pro Flare
  • 15. PDF through the DITA Open Toolkit Very difficult to configure No “tweaking” to fix copyfitting problems Almost certainly the long-term winner
  • 16. DITA Open Toolkit process Customize default PDF output to your requirements (once) Make fonts available to FO processor (once) Run Ant command to generate PDF
  • 17. DITA Open Toolkit challenges Fonts Formatting Foggy FO FOP foibles
  • 18. PDF via FrameMaker Configuration, at a minimum, requires modifying a formatting template Nice PDF Can tweak to adjust pagination
  • 19. FrameMaker process Modify the template to meet your requirements (once) Manage white space (tabs, newlines) (once) Open the map file (v8 and earlier) Generate intermediate book Save as PDF
  • 20. FrameMaker pitfalls Sensitive to whitespace DITA specializations Round-tripping Authoring
  • 21. FrameMaker recommendations Use DITA-FMx plug-in
  • 22. PDF via InDesign Beautiful typography Can tweak to adjust pagination No default support for DITA Extensive configuration required Whitespace in XML results in anaphylactic shock for InDesign
  • 23. InDesign process Transform DITA content into “InDesign-friendly” XML via XSLT (once) Flatten map files Resolve and flatten content references (conrefs) Modify structure of images and tables Control whitespace Do something about xrefs with InDesign scripts Set up template in InDesign (once) Import modified XML into InDesign
  • 24. DITA to InDesign challenges Extensive preprocessing Round-tripping Authoring White space
  • 25. What about the help authoring tools? Yes, if you need cross-browser, cross-platform help. Not the best choice for PDF only.
  • 26. What are your PDF priorities? For typography, choose InDesign or similar. For automation, choose the DITA Open Toolkit. For a middle ground, choose FrameMaker.
  • 27. Lower your standards. Does your audience care about fine typography? Less copyfitting = greater automation
  • 28. Factors to consider for PDF output Platform requirements Technical resources Typography requirements Velocity Volume Versioning
  • 29. Poll: How are you creating (or planning to create) PDF output?
  • 30. DITA Open Toolkit PDF is not necessarily ugly. It just starts out that way. Making it pretty is a lot of work.
  • 31. Custom output examples Your own implementation of web-based help Man pages and other custom markup Building to an existing formatting specification Custom markup, such as IDML, XPS, or MIF Flickr: markdevries
  • 32. XSL programming skill is an issue In-house resources Contractors or consultants? Technical skills required are beyond “typical” FrameMaker templates, HTML coding, and CSS Flickr: jinxmcc
  • 33. Automation has advantages Incremental builds (nightly updates) Zero manual formatting Excellent localization support in DITA Open Toolkit
  • 34. Automation has disadvantages Initial configuration effort No intermediate file for last-ditch copyfitting or content changes No book-by-book customization
  • 35. Overall recommendation for HTML Use the DITA Open Toolkit Automation is more valuable than ability to finagle
  • 36. Overall recommendation for PDF Weigh the benefits of automation against the difficulty of implementing XSL-FO Remember that localization support in DITA OT is excellent (and extensive) Consider the value of existing assets (FrameMaker or InDesign templates) How strict are your output requirements? How strict do they need to be?
  • 37. Questions? Comments?
  • 38. Contact information Sarah O'Keefe okeefe@scriptorium.com www.scriptorium.com Phone: +919 459 5362 Twitter: @sarahokeefe