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Process Re-engineering for Topic Based Authoring
 

Process Re-engineering for Topic Based Authoring

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Presented at STC Summit in Atlanta, GA in May 2009. ...

Presented at STC Summit in Atlanta, GA in May 2009.
Presented at Spectrum 2008 in Rochester, NY by Rob Hanna. Discussion of the implied changes moving to a topic-based writing system from a book-based paradigm.

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  • Rob, I like your ideas and the example. Thanks. I believe you are correct that folder hierarchies become too complex, and without a naming scheme, the thousands of topics become impossible to find.
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    Process Re-engineering for Topic Based Authoring Process Re-engineering for Topic Based Authoring Presentation Transcript

    • Process Re-engineering for Topic-Based Authoring Rob Hanna Content Management Consultant ASCan Enterprises
    • What is Topic-Based Authoring?
      • “ Topic-based authoring is a modular content creation approach…”
      • “ A topic is a discrete piece of content that is about a specific subject, has an identifiable purpose, and can stand alone…”
      • http://en. wikipedia .org/wiki/Topic-based_authoring
    • Opportunities for Topic-Based Authoring
      • Speed to market
      • Reduced maintenance effort
      • Better opportunities for reuse
      • Balancing workload
      • Finer control for project management
      • Opportunities for collaboration
      • Clearer, more concise content
    • Challenges for Topic-Based Authoring
      • Writing process requires greater discipline
      • Loss of content ownership for authors
      • Less control over look and feel
      • Responsibilities redefined
      • Loss of context for SMEs and authors
      • More to manage
    • Topic-Based vs. Book-Based
      • Topic-Based Authoring
      • Multiple authors per book
      • Topics serve multiple products and audiences
      • Content is iterative
      • Presentation layout can be template-driven
      • Well suited for modular hardware/software products with short lifecycle or long life span.
      • Book-Based Authoring
      • One author per book
      • Books serve a single product and audience
      • Content is linear
      • Presentation layout requires manual work
      • Well suited for highly technical or one-of-a-kind products with a long development cycle and/or short life span.
    • Single-Sourcing
      • Single-sourcing is not about content reuse - it is about reusable content.
    • Single-Source Authoring
      • Single-source practices should be followed regardless of topic- or book-based approach.
      • Single-sourcing is all about maintaining a single, definitive source of content. Reuse is merely a benefit of single-sourcing.
      • Book-based authoring is used where content can generally only be reused in situations where reuse is planned.
      • Topic-based authoring makes it much easier to reuse content without anticipating its specific reuse context.
    • Topic-Based Architecture
      • Topics are standardized units of information based upon information type
      • Topics require only navigational reference for context and can be read in any order
      • Topics must all contain a descriptive title and normally include a body and metadata section
      • Topics represent a single unit of work for authors
      • Topics may contain other topics where there is an inseparable relationship from parent to child
    • Information Typing
      • Information types separate content into easily identifiable chunks of information
        • DITA identifies 3 specialized topic types
        • Information Mapping ® identifies 7 information types
        • Information Management Model TM identifies 11 information types
        • S1000D identifies 22 common data modules
        • Mil Spec 2361 identifies 55 work packages
    • Topic-based authoring changes how content is managed
      • The number of files your team will be working with will increase dramatically
      • Over time it will be more difficult to identify and track these files
      • You may be required to track successive versions of files
      • To manage your files effectively, you will need to introduce and manage metadata
    • Storage Conventions
      • Topics must be stored in a centralized repository or network drive
      • Your authors have gotten used to browsing for files and using folders and file names to manage them
      • Folders and file names will not be enough to track files – track them through an index
      • If free from file browsing, you can introduce much flatter directory structures and more meaningful file names
    • File Naming Conventions
      • Tracking files by topic title will breakdown over time
      • To effectively track topics, you need to introduce a fixed-length global unique identifier (GUID) for file names
      • GUIDs should include metadata attributes to help identify the files. Do not include version-specific attributes
      • GUIDs can be appended by a short descriptive text for ease of reference
      • For example: xxx-yyyy-00001-descriptor.dita where: xxx = information type, yyyy = scope, and 00001 = sequence of topic.
    • Use of Titles
      • Concise titles are crucial to the effective management of topics.
      • Titles should never include markup or special characters of any sort.
      • Alternate title markup allows you to create one title for publishing and another for navigation.
      • Consider all titles including sub-titles, figure titles, and table titles.
    • Content Aggregation
      • Unlike book-based authoring that flows from an outline, topic-based authoring can start with content and be organized into a map.
      • Maps can be query-based allowing for the automatic aggregation of content.
      • Most often maps are built by hand.
      • Using DITA, maps and map parts can be used in other maps.
    • Release Management
      • Managing versions of topics is complicated by the fact that they may change more frequently than the documents in which they are contained
      • Three major considerations affecting how content is controlled and released:
        • Freezing development of topics for approval
        • Combining different versions of components into separate deliverables
        • Concurrent development of product
    • How does topic-based authoring change how we work?
    • Typical Document Workflow Kick Off Book Planning Book Plan Review Approved Authoring Approved Publish Book Review Yes Yes No No Book Workflow Roles Manager Author Various Groups
    • Roles in Topic-Based Authoring
      • Manager
      • Librarian
      • Architect
      • Author
      • Editor
      • Subject Matter Expert (SME)
    • Topic-Based Workflow
      • Separate workflow into two independent iterative cycles:
        • Book-level workflow
        • Topic-level workflow
    • Topic-Based Workflow Kick Off Book Planning Book Plan Review Approved Authoring Approved Publish Book Review Yes Yes No No Book Draft Topic Editorial Review Approved Approved Ready Technical Review Yes Yes No No A A Workflow Roles Manager Architect Editor Author Subject Matter Expert
    • Content Reviews
      • Topic-Level Reviews
        • Peer Edit/Review
        • Structural Review
        • Technical Review
      • Book-Level Review
        • Sign-off/Approval
    • Working with Subject Matter Experts
      • Gathering Materials
      • SME Review
      • Traceability
    • Tools needed for Topic-Based Authoring
      • Start with tools you already have:
        • Email applications
        • Structured authoring editors
        • Web servers
        • Spreadsheets and databases
        • Code management tools
      • Develop requirements for CMS
    • Prototyping with a File System
      • Controlled access to central repository folders
      • Consider serving source content through a web server – revisions managed manually through a single point of contact
      • Serve metadata and access through a database-driven website (SharePoint).
    • Using Spreadsheet to Manage Metadata
      • Spreadsheet captures and manages metadata about each topic in the repository
      • Advanced spreadsheet development controls transactions in the repository and metadata creation
      • Spreadsheet can be used to organize and aggregate content stored in the repository
      • Spreadsheet can be used as a source for database-driven web interface
    • Using a Source Code-Management Tool
      • Source-code management tools allow you to manage revisions and releases of content
      • Working with XML, you can use these tools to show differences between revisions
    • Using a Component CMS to Manage Topics
      • Advantages include:
        • Automatic versioning of content
        • Automatic capture of metadata
        • Automatic file naming
        • Query-based search and retrieval of content
        • Automated workflow engine
        • Management reporting
        • Query-based content aggregation
        • Access control
        • Release management features
    • Thank you for attending
      • Please contact me at:
      • rob. hanna @ ascan .ca
      • +1 (905) 997-6563
      • Skype/AIM: singlesourceror
      • LinkedIn: http://www. linkedin .com/in/ singlesourceror