<ul><li>Making the Move to Information Architecture </li></ul>Alan Houser Principal Consultant and Trainer Tel: 412.363.34...
What you will learn <ul><li>What is information architecture </li></ul><ul><li>Why is information architecture important <...
What we will not discuss <ul><li>Complex terms that nobody understands </li></ul>
What is information architecture? <ul><li>“… Science of expressing a model or concept for information” (Wikipedia) </li></...
Why information architecture? <ul><li>Business requirements – time-to-market, reuse, efficiency in authoring, translation,...
Before information architecture <ul><li>Books and book-like structures </li></ul><ul><li>Ad hoc mechanisms for defining an...
After information architecture <ul><li>Topics with named types and consistent, predictable internal structure </li></ul><u...
Ad hoc versus formal information architecture Auto-generated navigation based on structures Hard-coded navigation Formal t...
Overview of DITA design <ul><li>Roots of DITA: minimalist approach </li></ul>
DITA goals <ul><li>Provide task-oriented documentation </li></ul><ul><li>Provide navigation and accessibility mechanisms <...
What is DITA? <ul><li>Darwin Information Typing Architecture </li></ul><ul><li>An architecture that supports authoring, ma...
DITA architecture <ul><li>Topics  –  typed, reusable units of information </li></ul><ul><li>Specialization mechanism to cr...
<ul><li>Basic DITA information unit </li></ul><ul><li>Should be stand-alone, usable out of context </li></ul><ul><li>No fo...
Structure of a DITA Topic <topic> <title/> <titlealts/> <shortdesc/> <prolog/> <body/> <related-links/> </topic>
Structure of a DITA Task <task> <title/> <titlealts/> <shortdesc/> <prolog/> <taskbody/> <related-links/> </task>
Structure of a DITA Task (continued) <taskbody> <prereq/> <context/> <steps> <step><cmd> </cmd></step> <step><cmd> </cmd><...
<ul><li>Define topic sequences, hierarchies, groups </li></ul><ul><li>Define topic sets and structure for publishing </li>...
<ul><li><map title = &quot;Using your Acme Cell Phone&quot;> </li></ul><ul><li><topicref href=&quot;answer_call.xml&quot;/...
Expressing topic hierarchies <ul><li><topicref> elements can be nested to express topic hierarchies in navigation and outp...
Expressing headings within a map  <ul><li>Use <topichead> to provide title for a group of <topicref> elements. Title is re...
Overriding topic headings within a map  <ul><li>Use  navtitle  attribute to override topic titles for navigation. Must als...
Overriding topic-level metadata <ul><li>DITA 1.0 provides 4 attributes to support topic filtering:  audience ,  platform ,...
Sounds like a good idea. Let’s go! <ul><li>Conventional approach to DITA migration </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze legacy docume...
A better approach <ul><li>Task-based approach </li></ul><ul><li>Perform task analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Determine supporti...
Task analysis methodologies <ul><li>GOMS (Goals, Operators, Methods, Selection) and similar methodologies (Card, Moran, Ne...
Contact Us! <ul><li>We hope you enjoyed this presentation. Please feel free to contact us: </li></ul><ul><li>Alan Houser [...
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Making The Move To Information Architecture

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Presented at DocTrain East 2007 Conference by Alan Houser, Group Wellesley -- Many documentation departments use loosely-defined or ad hoc standards for developing and delivering technical content. In many organizations, writers are judged by the volume of content that they produce. The larger the manual or help system, the more effective the writer. A fatter manual is considered to be a better manual.

In the face of todays increasingly challenging business requirements, including increasing information re-use and decreasing time-to-market, these ad hoc methodologies and old-fashioned standards quickly break down. There is no positive correlation between page or topic count and usability. Higher page or topic counts mean higher maintenance, translation, and production costs. Furthermore, information developed without a formal information architecture is difficult to manage, difficult to publish, and difficult to re-use.

To meet today’s business requirements, many organizations are adopting formal information architectures. A formal information architecture can bring many benefits, including increased writer efficiency, increased documentation usability, increased information re-use, and decreased cost of production. The most successful of these architectures embody the following concepts:

* they are based on a tested communication strategy (in the case of DITA, the minimalist documentation strategy)
* they include a formal analysis of the product or service being documented (e.g., a task analysis)
* they define multiple information types
* they define a way to define collections of those information types

What does an information architecture lookӔ like? How does using an information architecture differ from ad hoc information development strategies? We will see how one popular information architecture (DITA) defines both topics and topic collections.

We will also discuss effective strategies for adopting a formal information architecture, and for migrating legacy content to a formal information architecture. Although examples will be based on DITA, concepts will apply to any information architecture or structured authoring environment.

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Making The Move To Information Architecture

  1. 1. <ul><li>Making the Move to Information Architecture </li></ul>Alan Houser Principal Consultant and Trainer Tel: 412.363.3481 [email_address] www.groupwellesley.com Group Wellesley, Inc.
  2. 2. What you will learn <ul><li>What is information architecture </li></ul><ul><li>Why is information architecture important </li></ul><ul><li>Approaches to information architecture </li></ul><ul><li>Information architecture in DITA </li></ul>
  3. 3. What we will not discuss <ul><li>Complex terms that nobody understands </li></ul>
  4. 4. What is information architecture? <ul><li>“… Science of expressing a model or concept for information” (Wikipedia) </li></ul><ul><li>All organizations use information architecture. Some more formally than others. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Why information architecture? <ul><li>Business requirements – time-to-market, reuse, efficiency in authoring, translation, publishing, content management. </li></ul><ul><li>User requirements – usability, predictability, findability, consistency </li></ul>
  6. 6. Before information architecture <ul><li>Books and book-like structures </li></ul><ul><li>Ad hoc mechanisms for defining and organizing content </li></ul><ul><li>Little control over content lifecycle </li></ul>
  7. 7. After information architecture <ul><li>Topics with named types and consistent, predictable internal structure </li></ul><ul><li>Formal ways to associate metadata (properties, classes) with topics </li></ul><ul><li>Formal ways to define topic collections </li></ul><ul><li>Formal ways to define relationships, structures, hierarchies among topics </li></ul>
  8. 8. Ad hoc versus formal information architecture Auto-generated navigation based on structures Hard-coded navigation Formal types (task, concept, reference) Ad hoc types Map file TOC Topic Section Task analysis Outline Formal information architecture Ad hoc information architecture
  9. 9. Overview of DITA design <ul><li>Roots of DITA: minimalist approach </li></ul>
  10. 10. DITA goals <ul><li>Provide task-oriented documentation </li></ul><ul><li>Provide navigation and accessibility mechanisms </li></ul><ul><li>Minimize amount of content provided to support your product or service </li></ul><ul><li>Maximize usability </li></ul><ul><li>Maximize process efficiency </li></ul>
  11. 11. What is DITA? <ul><li>Darwin Information Typing Architecture </li></ul><ul><li>An architecture that supports authoring, managing, and publishing topic-oriented content. </li></ul><ul><li>Why DITA? </li></ul><ul><li>Companies are looking for publishing solutions that facilitate information re-use, reduce time-to-market, improve management and maintainability, and provide the capability to deliver highly usable technical content. </li></ul>
  12. 12. DITA architecture <ul><li>Topics – typed, reusable units of information </li></ul><ul><li>Specialization mechanism to create new topic types </li></ul><ul><li>Maps define topic collections </li></ul><ul><li>Content reuse at topic and fragment level </li></ul><ul><li>Metadata-based content filtering </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Basic DITA information unit </li></ul><ul><li>Should be stand-alone, usable out of context </li></ul><ul><li>No formal restriction on topic length </li></ul><ul><li>Generic &quot;topic&quot; type </li></ul><ul><li>Specialized topic types: task, concept, reference </li></ul>DITA Topic
  14. 14. Structure of a DITA Topic <topic> <title/> <titlealts/> <shortdesc/> <prolog/> <body/> <related-links/> </topic>
  15. 15. Structure of a DITA Task <task> <title/> <titlealts/> <shortdesc/> <prolog/> <taskbody/> <related-links/> </task>
  16. 16. Structure of a DITA Task (continued) <taskbody> <prereq/> <context/> <steps> <step><cmd> </cmd></step> <step><cmd> </cmd></step> … </steps> <result/> <example/> <postreq/> </taskbody>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Define topic sequences, hierarchies, groups </li></ul><ul><li>Define topic sets and structure for publishing </li></ul><ul><li>Define topic sets for project management and authoring responsibility </li></ul><ul><li>Define navigation structures </li></ul><ul><li>Augment and override topic-level metadata </li></ul>DITA Maps
  18. 18. <ul><li><map title = &quot;Using your Acme Cell Phone&quot;> </li></ul><ul><li><topicref href=&quot;answer_call.xml&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li><topicref href=&quot;attach_battery.xml&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li><topicref href=&quot;change_case.xml&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li><topicref href=&quot;charge_battery.xml&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li></map> </li></ul>A basic DITA map file
  19. 19. Expressing topic hierarchies <ul><li><topicref> elements can be nested to express topic hierarchies in navigation and output: </li></ul><ul><li><topicref href = &quot;maintaining_battery&quot;> </li></ul><ul><li> <topicref href = &quot;charge_battery.xml&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li> <topicref href = &quot;attach_battery.xml&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li> <topicref href = &quot;detach_battery.xml&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li> <topicref href = &quot;replace_battery.xml&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li></topicref> </li></ul>
  20. 20. Expressing headings within a map <ul><li>Use <topichead> to provide title for a group of <topicref> elements. Title is rendered in output. </li></ul><ul><li><topichead navtitle=&quot;Maintaining your battery&quot;> </li></ul><ul><li> <topicref href=&quot;attach_battery.xml&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li> <topicref href=&quot;charge_battery.xml&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li> <topicref href=&quot;detach_battery.xml&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li> <topicref href=&quot;replace_battery.xml&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li></topichead> </li></ul>
  21. 21. Overriding topic headings within a map <ul><li>Use navtitle attribute to override topic titles for navigation. Must also set locktitle attribute to &quot;yes&quot;. </li></ul><ul><li><topichead navtitle=&quot;Battery&quot;> </li></ul><ul><li><topicref href=&quot;charge_battery.xml&quot; navtitle=&quot;Charge&quot; locktitle=&quot;yes&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li> <topicref href=&quot;attach_battery.xml&quot; navtitle=&quot;Attach&quot; locktitle=&quot;yes&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li><topicref href=&quot;detach_battery.xml&quot; navtitle=&quot;Detach&quot; locktitle=&quot;yes&quot;/> </li></ul><ul><li></topichead> </li></ul>
  22. 22. Overriding topic-level metadata <ul><li>DITA 1.0 provides 4 attributes to support topic filtering: audience , platform , product , otherprops . These are typically set in the topic file, but can be set or overridden in the map file. </li></ul><ul><li><topic audience=&quot;administrator&quot;> … </topic> </li></ul><ul><li><topicref href=&quot;troubleshooting.xml&quot; audience=&quot;user&quot; /> </li></ul><ul><li>DITA 1.1 allows you to specialize the props attribute to provide your own attribute &quot;labels&quot;. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Sounds like a good idea. Let’s go! <ul><li>Conventional approach to DITA migration </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze legacy documents </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Chunk&quot; legacy content </li></ul><ul><li>Assign topic types </li></ul><ul><li>Rewrite content as necessary </li></ul><ul><li>Convert content to markup </li></ul><ul><li>Organize using DITA map files </li></ul>
  24. 24. A better approach <ul><li>Task-based approach </li></ul><ul><li>Perform task analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Determine supporting concept and reference topics </li></ul><ul><li>Create organizing structure: sequences, hierarchies, groups </li></ul><ul><li>Pull topics from legacy documentation as needed </li></ul><ul><li>Write to fill the holes </li></ul><ul><li>Throw the rest (of your legacy content) away </li></ul>
  25. 25. Task analysis methodologies <ul><li>GOMS (Goals, Operators, Methods, Selection) and similar methodologies (Card, Moran, Newell) </li></ul><ul><li>Card sorting </li></ul><ul><li>Post-it notes </li></ul><ul><li>Mind-mapping applications </li></ul>
  26. 26. Contact Us! <ul><li>We hope you enjoyed this presentation. Please feel free to contact us: </li></ul><ul><li>Alan Houser [email_address] Group Wellesley, Inc. 933 Wellesley Road Pittsburgh, PA 15206 USA 412-363-3481 www.groupwellesley.com </li></ul>

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