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Quick and Easy Usability in XMetaL Author


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XMetaL Author is an XML editor platform that is designed to be improved through customization. With small amounts of effort you can greatly enhance the usability of XMetaL, improving your customers' …

XMetaL Author is an XML editor platform that is designed to be improved through customization. With small amounts of effort you can greatly enhance the usability of XMetaL, improving your customers' productivity and increasing user acceptance. In this webinar we'll highlight a few simple techniques that will help you get the most "usability return" on a small amount of "customization investment".

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  • 1. in 37 minutes
    Episode #2:
    Quick and Easy Usability
    in XMetaL Author
    Tom Magliery
    XML Technology Specialist
    Brought to you by XMetaL Technical Services
  • 2. XMetaL Author requires a “document customization” for any document type
    Customization includes the DTD/schema, style sheets, element properties, forms, macros
    DITA customization is included with XMEE
    Provides many special features for working with DITA
    Background: How XMetaL works
    There are 37 holes in the mouthpiece of a telephone (old style).
  • 3. Default is automatically generated
    Style sheets serviceable, not especially pretty
    Generic XML editing
    E.g., Working Element List and Attribute Inspector, but no DTD-specific menu items
    Authors can work, but not as efficient as they could be
    How can we improve the situation?
    Techniques applicable both to new and existing customizations
    Customizations for other doctypes
    All American Express card numbers start with 37.
  • 4. Know your users’ needs and wants
    Study authors’ habits and preferences
    Analyze common tasks
    Identify inefficiencies
    Now some examples of low-hanging fruit ...
    Before you begin
    “I’m 37, I’m not old” – Dennis the peasant in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”
  • 5. Modify the style sheets
    Easy pickin’s #1
  • 6. Style sheets are not only for aesthetics
    Also should help the author to visualize markup
    Improve author’s understanding of structure
    CSS is widely known standard
    High visual impact
    Minimal effort can yield dramatic changes
    Don’t forget about Structure View!
    Separate CSS adds further flexibility
    #1: Modify the style sheets
    Beethoven's symphonies comprise 37 movements.
  • 7. The Green Monster in Fenway Park is 37 feet tall.
    Modified DITA CSS
    37 added lines of code
    Look at the difference
    Style sheet example
  • 8. Make new document templates
    Easy pickin’s #2
  • 9. Built-in templates are simple and generic
    Make templates that better match your content
    Include all “required” elements
    Saves authors time
    Add/modify “replaceable text” hints
    Element descriptions
    Usage and style guidelines
    #2: Make new document templates
    "This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office ..." – R. Nixon's resignation speech
  • 10. Creating templates for XMetaL
    Create an XML file
    Save it in XMetaL’s template folders
    Each subfolder makes a tab
    Nixon was also the 37th President.
  • 11. Creating templates for DITA
    Create a DITA file in XMetaL
    Run the “Save Copy as Template” macro
    Saves with proper doctype and strips IDs
    Hannibal brought 37 elephants with him on his conquest of Rome.
  • 12. Change element mini-templates
    Easy pickin’s #3
    Elaine slept with Jerry 37 times.
  • 13. Same idea as with document templates
    Except they’re littler
    Change is in the CTM file
    XML fragment for every element
    #3: Change element mini-templates
    Cool Hand Luke's prison uniform number is 37.
  • 14. Write helpful macros
    Easy pickin’s #4
  • 15. Computers are supposed to do the tedious work for us!
    Identify frequent, repetitive or inefficient actions
    Write macros to do them automatically
    Be sure to assign a hotkey
    Can also do menu/toolbar items, but we are looking at minimal effort here
    #4: Write helpful macros
    The landing slope angle for international ski aerials competition is 37 degrees.
  • 16. Create special-purpose commands for commonly-used elements:
    Example: Insert macro
    <MACRO name="Insert_Unordered_List"
    if (Selection.CanInsert("ul")) {
    SPAM was invented in 1937.
  • 17. No built-in command in XMetaL:
    “Select entire element contents (not the tags)”
    But there is an API ... so write a macro
    Example: Power-user macro
    <MACRO name="Select_Container_Contents"
    There are 37 points in a “perfect” hand in bridge.
  • 18. Create custom forms
    Easy pickin’s #5
  • 19. Sometimes a form-style interface is more understandable
    Use XFT to create custom forms
    #5: Create custom forms
    The curie, a unit of radiation activity, is 37 billion disintegrations per second.
  • 20. Developer documentation
    XMetaL Customization Guide
    XMetaL Developer Programmer's Guide
    XMetaL Community Forums
    JustSystems Partner Centre
    Ask us for help (partner tech support)
    Is there a way to ... ?
    The first touchdown pass in Super Bowl history was for 37 yards.
  • 21. Thank you for attending!
    “Thirty-seven!” – Dante in “Clerks”