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Understanding Content Component Management


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Presented at DocTrain East 2007 Conference by Steve Manning, The Rockley Group -- Reuse has been (and continues to be) a best practice for the technical communications and training communities. Many companies are struggling with big translation localization expenses. DITA is the word most used when you ask about hot trends in the industry. What do the three preceding sentences have in common? Simple. Component-based content is part of the solution.

So what is component-based content management? Thats what this session aims to help you understand. You will learn what component content management is, what the benefits are, and how it is currently being applied in different organizations. You also learn how a content component approach can help you solve your content issues.

How important is component-based content creation and management? It has taken over from DITA as the most talked about subject in documentation. It is being used in many companies who have followed traditional methodologies for creating things like technical documentation, training materials, help systems and so on. But in the push to do things faster, cheaper, more flexibly, and for more people, companies are discovering that by moving to a component based approach, they can do things faster, cheaper and more flexibly.

Some of the advantages they are gaining are in automating the production of outputs—getting PDF for print, PDF for online display, and HTML—with a single push of a button. Or, they are getting flexible content, where reuse is a matter of reconfiguring a list of topics, rather than cutting and pasting chunks of content between large binary files. Or they are beginning to manage extreme time frames, where panic used to be the order of the day come release time, and make release time something that is not so likely to turn hair gray.

This session will describe content component management in detail and help you grasp the concepts needed to figure out if a move to component-based content can help you solve your content challenges.

Published in: Economy & Finance, Technology
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Understanding Content Component Management

  1. 1. Understanding Content Component Management Steve Manning Principal Consultant, The Rockley Group Inc.
  2. 2. Agenda Briefest intro to TRG An introduction to CCM The benefits/drivers of CCM Some scenarios What you need to consider for CCM ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  3. 3. The Rockley Group Inc. 2007 ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  4. 4. The Rockley Group sample clients ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  5. 5. Component Content Management Is the creation, management, and publication of content as individual chunks (components) that can be assembled into necessary outputs Not based on the outputs i.e., chapters Is part of the solution in most of the projects we (TRG) work on ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  6. 6. Create components, output ??? Whatever you want!!! Components can be configured and reconfigured for different outputs Topics are assembled/related to create outputs through: Virtual documents Maps (DITA) Directory hierarchies in CM systems Other linking mechanisms ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  7. 7. Why CCM Key drivers: Reuse Translation costs DITA Structure ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  8. 8. Reuse A definite “Best Practice” Reuse content rather than duplicate it Focuses revisions to a single instance Promotes consistency Reduces time to create and maintain content ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  9. 9. Translation costs Reduce costs by reusing translated components, just as you reuse the source language components Reduce timelines by sequencing components through the translation process, rather than larger (chapters?) chunks Save money and time by automating formatting and output ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  10. 10. DITA A shortcut to get to XML and Topic-based architecture Stucture Reuse Output Automation Increasing in popularity and application ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  11. 11. Structure Repeatable patterns in content E.g., Procedure (title, description, steps) Promotes consistency Eases the authoring process ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  12. 12. Benefits Faster time to market Better use of resources Reduced creation, maintenance and production costs Consistent and accurate content Increased opportunity to innovate Decreased costs!! ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  13. 13. Some scenarios where CCM fits Hardware documentation Software documentation Government policy and procedure Flight menus ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  14. 14. Hardware documentation Products in a single product line have lots of common information, currently duplicated Translation costs soaring as languages are added ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  15. 15. Hardware documentation solution CCM Topic-based approach Tremendous savings in translation costs ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  16. 16. Software documentation Content duplicated across products Content duplicated across outputs (user guides, help, marketing) Collaborative authoring on all outputs ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  17. 17. Software documentation solution CCM Topic-based approach Defined structures for consistency Using conditional text to output to user guides, help, and marketing from a single topic base ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  18. 18. Government policy and procedure All information published on the web and in PDF Different audiences require different subsets of content - content is copied and pasted to create these varients Too many different formats required Huge amount of boilerplate (like contact information) duplicated Translation time consuming ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  19. 19. Government policy and procedure solution CCM Topic based approach – DITA Each different audience gets a different DITA map Maps point to required topics from a library of topics Output to HTML and PDF automated ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  20. 20. Flight menus Menus are printed for food service (first class and executive – of course!!) for all flights (hundreds) There are 4 “cycles” repeated throughout the year (Jan, May, Sept) use the same cycle Menus comprise food, wine, and miscellaneous items Items can appear on any number of menus Menus are copied and pasted Changes are time consuming (gotta find where items are reused) Formatting is time consuming (gotta fix every time you change an item) Timelines are being squeezed (more decisions being made at the last minute) ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  21. 21. Flight menus solution CCM Each food item is maintained as a single component Recipes point to required food items Cycles point to related menus CM system helps manage the relationships between cycles and menus, as well as recipes and food items First pass at formatting is automated, required only fine adjustments for output ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  22. 22. What you need to consider
  23. 23. Success is in the analysis A successful implementation begins with a thorough analysis of your organization issues and needs ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  24. 24. Analyzing the content life cycle Content is developed in many different ways, by many different people, and by many different departments. Development may follow a predefined process or it may not, and if there is an established process, it may differ from department to department. You need to examine your content life cycle and any issues associated with it. ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  25. 25. Perform a content audit A content audit is an accounting of the information in your organization. The purpose of a content audit is to analyze how content is used, reused, and delivered to its various audiences. You need to understand how information—as well as the processes to create it—can be unified, eliminating the “cut and paste” method many authors employ in their attempt to unify content wherever possible. ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  26. 26. Create a content model Consistent structure is vital!!! Create a structural model of your content that clearly describes the components and structure E.g., Menu Flight Region Food Items Food Item Name Description … ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  27. 27. Create a metadata model You cannot reuse what you can’t find!!! Understand how authors will search for content to be reused Create a metadata/taxonomy strategy that ensure you will be able to find and reuse content ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  28. 28. Tools and technology XML?? DITA??? Authoring Content Management Delivery/publishing ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  29. 29. XML?? You can take a component-based approach without XML, but it might be more difficult XML give you: Structures Separation of content and format Can take some time to implement Has a learning curve!! ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  30. 30. DITA??? Very popular A nice shortcut to XML Structures may not be sufficient Has a learning curve No so easy to deal with (customize) stylesheets!!! ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  31. 31. Authoring There are some excellent XML tools with varying degrees of support for DITA Key functionality Ease of use Map/virtual document creation Tag entry Metadata entry ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  32. 32. Content Management Lots of CM systems to support CCM Both installed and hosted (SaaS) Key functionality Integration with editors Where used reporting Link management Graphics management Metadata management Search mechanisms Workflow Publishing integration ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  33. 33. Delivery/publishing Very important – your job is to deliver pdf, help, etc., not just components Key functionality Integration with editors/CM Output formats supported Generation of TOCs, Indexes, Xrefs, related topics Automation (hands off!!) Standards (open source) ©2007, The Rockley Group Inc.
  34. 34. Final questions? Steve Manning The Rockley Group Inc.