Links are a powerful aspect of eMedia products. The capacity to link to other resources at will is one of the key things that sets true eMedia apart from plain old "books on glass" approaches. But the creation and management of links presents substantial challenges, especially when you are creating content that may be used in different contexts and in different media.
Transcript of "Managing Links for Content Reuse"
Managing Linksfor Content Reuse Mark Baker Analecta Communications Inc.
Links Matter The web is a hypertext medium So are help systems A page that does not link to anything is a dead end
Links in HTML<p>Hawkes‘ final film is a lighthearted Western in the Rio Bravo mold, with <a href="http://www.johnwayne.com/"> the Duke</a> as an ex-Union colonel out to settle some old scores.</p>
Hard Links A hard link identifies a resource to link to
Hard links are hard work Author discovers a resource to link to Author creates link to chosen resource Author manages and updates link over time
Hard Linking Topics contain direct links to other topics B C A D E
The problem with hard linking If a topic is reused in more than one location, what do you do about the links? First use Second use C C B A A ? F D E D
Remove all the links? Lonely topics First use Second use C C B A A F D E D
Externalize the links Move the links to a map file New map file required for each use Heavy creation and maintenance burden Will tend to limit amount of linking that is practical First use Second useMap file for first use Map file for second useAB ACAC ADAD AFAE
Soft linking A soft link identifies the subject that is mentioned
Soft links in XML<p><director name="Howard Hawkes">Hawkes</director> final film is a lighthearted Western in the <movie>Rio Bravo</movie> mold, with <actor name="John Wayne">the Duke</actor> as an ex-Union colonel out to settle some old scores.</p>
How do links get made Topics are indexed by subject
Soft linking != redirection No resource is identified in any way
Connection is by subject only No resource has to exist to name a subject
Soft linking and reuse Links are created by querying the available topics in each place a topic is used First use Second use C C B A A F D E D
What if no topic found? Sometime there will be no topic in the current set for a reference C A F D
Not topic, no link! No broken link, because no link to break C A F D
Mentions are not links Text must be written so that links are omissible No “For more information, see …” No “Click here.” Authors can mark up all significant mentions If there is a topic on that subject, you get a link If not, no harm done
No link, no problem Lack of a topic to link to not necessarily a problem There are simply no topics on that subject in this collection Or, it may signal something missing from the collection
What if multiple topics found? More than one topic can cover the same subject
Handling multiple link targets 1 Create a popup with multiple links Topics on John Wayne • Filmography • Biography
Handling multiple link targets 2 Gather all the links at the end of the topic More on John Wayne • Filmography • Biography
Linking style options Mentions are not links Therefore, linking style is not determined at authoring time Mentions are never explicit links, so you can link inline or out of line in build Ensures consisten style when reusing content from multiple authors Also, can use index markup to generate related topics links.
Cost of discovery: hard links Author has to find the resource to link to each time Multiple authors linking to the same resource discover it independently Discovery breaks the author’s stream of thought Cost increases with size of collection
Cost of discovery: soft links Authors do not do resource discovery when writing Just mark up mentions of subjects Mark them all up, it costs nothing No interrupting flow to find linkable resources No need to browse the collection
Forward looking How do you link to topics that do not yet exist? But you can always mark up mentions of subjects Subjects are always there Topics on those subjects may appear later
Future-proof Hard links are fragile, volatile Require maintenance Marked-up mentions of subjects are stable The Duke will always be John Wayne
Quality The best topic on a subject is chosen by the author of that topic
Helps validate content Coverage Reveals missing topics Duplication Use indexes to detect duplication Terminology Discover incorrect terms in text or indexes
Summary Soft linking addresses key linking challenges Reuse: enables transparent reuse of topics Discovery: authors don’t have to hunt for link targets Maintenance: soft links don’t require much maintenance Quality: subject experts identify the best resources on a subject
Contact Mark Baker Analecta Communications Inc. analecta.com +1-613-614-5881 Blog: everypageispageone.com SPFE Architecture supports soft linking SPFE.info Presentation at CMS/DITA 2012 http://www.cm-strategies.com/2012/abstracts.htm#Baker