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Using Dita To Provide Consistent Communications To The Public

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A slightly beefier version of a presentation that I gave at the XML in Practice conference in Arlington, VA on October 1st. It discusses how a Federal Agency is working to implement DITA to solve their publishing needs, and the tools involved.

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Using Dita To Provide Consistent Communications To The Public

  1. 1. Using DITA to Provide Consistent Communications to the Public<br />Laurence Hart<br />Washington Consulting, Inc.<br />
  2. 2. Agenda<br />Introduction<br />The Plan for the System<br />The Challenges and Lessons Learned<br />Wrap-up<br />
  3. 3. The Problem<br />The goal of government is to serve the people….<br /> …but paper seems to be a key output.<br />LOTS OF PAPER!!!<br />
  4. 4. Government Publication Challenges<br />Evolving formats over the years<br />WordStar &gt; Word Perfect &gt; Word<br />Physical storage for paper records<br />Content creation is process intensive<br />Consistency between publications is hard to maintain<br />
  5. 5. Enter DITA<br />
  6. 6. DITA at 10,000 Feet<br />Darwin Information Typing Architecture<br />XML publishing based on Topics<br />Each Topic is written to stand alone<br />Three Topic types: Task, Concept, and Reference<br />Originally created by IBM<br />Donated to OASIS<br />http://dita.xml.org<br />Reuse of content is a key driver for implementing DITA<br />
  7. 7. Publication Project Background<br />Federal Agency publishes lots of content<br />Manuals: Internal users<br />Guidelines: External users<br />Historically authored in Word<br />Cut-and-paste into XML for print processing<br />Publish as PDF and HTML<br />Published on cycle<br />Manual and repetitive process<br />
  8. 8. The Agency’s Plan<br />Move all publications to DITA<br />Standardize the structure of all publication content<br />Enable reuse of content between publications<br />Increase publication output channels<br />Keep PDF for print<br />Add Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals for large documents<br />Identify supporting tools<br />EMC Documentum Content Server (including X-Hive, now XDB)<br />Quark XPress Author<br />XyEnterprise XPP (already owned) <br />
  9. 9. High-Level System Design<br />
  10. 10. Challenges and Lessons Learned<br />
  11. 11. Content Creation Challenges<br />Authors liked their Word styles<br />Software is licensed per user<br />Authors and reviewers throughout entire agency<br />Not enough need to give license to everyone for once a year task<br />Quark Express needed to be configured<br />Training required for those configuring<br />Defining the styles and formats was an iterative process with Authors<br />Authors don’t trust automatic content reuse<br />XML editor specific tags not handled consistently by editors<br />
  12. 12. Content Publication Challenges<br />Interfacing Documentum to XPP<br />Used Web Services<br />Development required to automate the interface for users<br />Assembling DITA Topics for publication<br />Manuals consist of multiple topics<br />Need to be able to publish manuals as sections or completely<br />Separate reviews for publication content and formatted output<br />Section 508 compliance reviews are time consuming and require coordination<br />
  13. 13. Key Lessons<br />Focus on the Authors, their acceptance of the new processes and technologies is critical<br />Invest in tools, if things are too hard to use or don’t work right, people will switch back to Word<br />Training is critical<br />One step at a time, don’t move everything to DITA at once<br />
  14. 14. Future Plans for the System<br />Manage images natively in Documentum<br />Now “managed” on desktops and email<br />More dynamic publishing<br />Remove schedule and update the print PDF automatically<br />Increase reuse<br />Switch for notifications of change to shared content sources<br />
  15. 15. Thank You<br />

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