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DITA: Managing It All


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Presented at DocTrain East 2007 Conference by Harvey Greenberg, XyEnterprise -- Just one of DITA’s many amazing attributes is how much power it provides, while at its core remaining quite simple. Simple though it is, DITA still requires good planning, good execution, and good project management to bring it all together. This is one area where technology—specifically content management technology—can add enormous value. Does every organization using DITA need a CMS? Certainly not. But this presentation discusses indicators for when you do, and offers some best practices surrounding acquisition and implementation.

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DITA: Managing It All

  1. 1. DITA: Managing It All DOCTRAIN East 2007 Harv Greenberg October 19, 2007
  2. 2. Purpose of Today’s Presentation <ul><li>Discuss content management technology in the context of DITA </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do you know when you need it? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What do you look for? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do you go about acquiring it? </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. The Wonderful Thing That is DITA <ul><li>Content model that works </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does not require complexity, but is infinitely extensible to meet your needs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>An open toolkit </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lots of good stuff and continually improving </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A supportive community </li></ul><ul><ul><li>DITA users group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conferences like these </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. So Am I Done Now? <ul><li>It depends </li></ul>
  5. 5. Life Without a CMS <ul><li>It works, and it can scale </li></ul><ul><li>At some level, if you can find what you’re looking for and it’s the right version, you’re OK </li></ul>
  6. 6. Some Challenges <ul><li>Data integrity </li></ul><ul><li>History and version control </li></ul><ul><li>Link management </li></ul><ul><li>Workflow </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Branching and where-used </li></ul><ul><li>Translation management </li></ul>
  7. 7. Data Integrity <ul><li>Perhaps the biggest issue with life on the file system </li></ul><ul><li>Good backup strategy can mitigate issue, but only if IT knows where all the cubbyholes are </li></ul><ul><li>Easier and more visible when data lives in a real database and standard backup practices apply </li></ul>
  8. 8. History and Version Control <ul><li>Who did what, when, why? </li></ul><ul><li>What changes were made? </li></ul><ul><li>Ooops! Can we restore previous? </li></ul><ul><li>Basic CMS function, but you may be getting what you need out of source control </li></ul>
  9. 9. Typical CMS Audit Trail
  10. 10. Link Management <ul><li>An old problem that grows in importance with DITA (and S1000D) </li></ul><ul><li>Among problems to be solved </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Guaranteeing uniqueness of id’s across collection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finding id’s to link to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensuring that links resolve </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fixing broken ones </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Perhaps solvable without CMS, provided some sort of link database exists </li></ul>
  11. 11. CMS to Link Management <ul><li>By definition, every object gets a unique ID </li></ul><ul><li>Links are discovered at content creation and abstracted onto metadata </li></ul><ul><li>All tools (e.g. publish, translation) act on metadata to produce correct result </li></ul>
  12. 12. Link Validation Scenario
  13. 13. Workflow <ul><li>CMS workflow is a way to embed business process in software and addresses issues such as </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who initiates work? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When is it due? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do different roles interact with content? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who has permission to do what? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do we know when we’re done </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Clear CMS value add (assuming CMS has workflow) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Work Package (Project) in Authoring
  15. 15. Project in Review Step
  16. 16. Collaboration <ul><li>Workflow has typically addressed interactions between CMS actors </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration requirements have become much more dynamic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Involving participants beyond CMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Involving reviewers who need to work with XML content who do not have XML tools and skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supporting parallel reviews and merging results </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Found solutions by partnering with industry leading authoring tool vendor JustSystems </li></ul>
  17. 17. Sending Topics to XMetaL Reviewer
  18. 18. Evolution of Topic in Reviewer
  19. 19. Branching and Where Used <ul><li>Traditional tech doc paradigm </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Surrounds notion of approved version and a work in progress version </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>History never changes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concurrent versions supported via effectivity (e.g. ECPs, ship alts) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>New paradigm </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Much more modular writing supporting concurrent releases </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Implications <ul><li>Multiple versions now in work concurrently; may also need to account for a future merge </li></ul><ul><li>Requires very clear visibility into what version of what is where </li></ul><ul><li>Copy and paste file system model fraught with peril </li></ul>
  21. 21. Branch Merge: Creating Branch
  22. 22. Branch Merge: Selecting Components Populate the Variant
  23. 23. Branch Merge: Comparing Versions
  24. 24. Translation Management <ul><li>While translation is nothing new, requirements are literally exploding </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More stuff needs to be published in more languages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>About half of the RFPs we are seeing contain translation requirements </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. What It’s All About <ul><li>Given source language object and requirement for target language </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does target language object exist? If not, create it and translate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If so, is it current? If not, update translation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But wait, there’s more </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are there dependencies, such as conrefs and graphics? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are you using translation memory? If so, what is its workflow? </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Translation Export
  27. 27. Result in Translation Memory Idiom and SDL translation interfaces
  28. 28. Checking Status
  29. 29. Result in CMS
  30. 30. What Do You Look For? <ul><li>It depends </li></ul><ul><li>Wide array of choices available </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Departmental versus Enterprise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shrinkwrap versus Framework </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rent versus Buy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>XML versus XML + Unstructured </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides workflow or not </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides API or not </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Recommendations <ul><li>Use opportunities like these to find out what is available and try to narrow your focus </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be afraid to get professional help </li></ul>
  32. 32. How Do You Acquire One? <ul><li>First of all, find out what your business requires </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who owns the money? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who ultimately has the authority to buy? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who also needs to sign off? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is a formal business case required (see professional help earlier)? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And, oh by the way, do you already have a CMS in your organization that you can use or are required to use? </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Acquire (Continued) <ul><li>Keep your focus on business, not technical requirements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t try to design a solution in your RFP </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Remember, that what you are seeing in product demos is implementation, not gospel </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Avoid the more is better trap </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some of our best experiences (win or lose) have been on RFPs of about a dozen pages for which selection took less than a month </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consider phased implementation </li></ul>
  34. 34. Questions and Follow-up [email_address] 781-756-5589