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DITA Quick Start Webinar Series: Building a Project Plan


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Presenters: Joe Gelb, President, Suite Solutions and Yehudit Lindblom, Project Manager, Suite Solutions
Migrating to DITA XML-based authoring and publishing promises rich rewards in terms of lower costs and faster time to publication. But DITA migration also requires a well-planned process that will lead you through all the steps of a successful implementation. In this webinar, experienced project manager Yehudit Lindblom and Joe Gelb will review a process that covers all the bases, helping you build your game plan for a winning DITA implementation.
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DITA Quick Start Webinar Series: Building a Project Plan

  1. 1. Migrating to DITA: Building a Project Plan Yehudit Lindblom & Joe Gelb November 18, 2013
  2. 2. Who are we? Yehudit Lindblom • Project Manager and cat herder Joe Gelb • Founder and President of Suite Solutions Suite Solutions Our Vision: Enable you to engage your customers by providing quick access to relevant information: DITA provides the foundation • Help companies get it right the first time • XML-based Authoring/Publishing Solutions • Enterprise Intelligent Dynamic Content: SuiteShare Social KB • Consultancy, Systems Integration, Application Development • Cross-Industry Expertise • High Tech, Aerospace & Defense, Discrete Manufacturing • Healthcare, Government
  3. 3. Main Topics • • • Goals of this webinar Key components of a DITA solution High level steps
  4. 4. Goals of this Webinar Primary Goal: Empower (not overwhelm) you • Understand the process, details and dependencies involved • Build a solid plan based on experience • Schedule accordingly • Understand the skills required and the help you should seek • Manage expectations • Discuss what you should – and should not - do
  5. 5. DITA. It’s like building a house What do you need to build a house? • Get educated about houses • Architect to design according to need and budget • Engineer to make sure it’s built right, with the right materials, on stable foundations with the ability to expand • Contractor to manage the project, bring in the right resources at the right time to get the construction done, according to the specs • Workers to actually build, with good quality, according to plans
  6. 6. DITA. It’s like building a house Reality Check: • No matter how handy you are, very few people can do all these steps and build a house on their own • At some point, you need help to fill in the gaps in knowledge and utilize the experience of others who've done it • The whole process is detailed and not always easy, but it’s worthwhile in the end
  7. 7. Key Components of a DITA Solution 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Staff Content Translation Publishing Content and configuration management Your mission is to develop or acquire each of these
  8. 8. High Level Steps          Assembling your project team Training Solution Architecture Information Architecture Content conversion to XML Style sheet development for publishing Configuration of content management tools Deployment Support
  9. 9.  Assembling your project team Your team should include: • Main project stakeholders • Writer • Familiar with your content • Open to learning the new methods and tools • Not necessarily the most senior and entrenched person in the group… • Information architect Someone with a good understanding of the corpus of your content and how is (or should be) used • Technical tools “guru” • Someone who can understand the toolset being customized and stitched together • Understand what they do, who to turn to if something breaks or needs adjustment, can work well with vendors and your IT department
  10. 10. Assembling your project team • External project manager • Helps you build a comprehensive project plan • Helps you coordinate with your external resources: IA consultant, software vendors, conversion experts, style sheet developers… • Has a broad and detailed view of all the moving parts and is focused on the success of your entire implementation • Brings experience to your team
  11. 11. Assembling your project team Project Plan Reality Check: • Allow enough time for each step • Gathering material • Testing and approvals • Make sure the pre-requisites are ready at each stage • Make sure internal resources will be available when needed • Training • Regular update meetings and decision-making sessions • Answer questions • Test • Re-test • Approve Allow enough time to do the job right and not take shortcuts: you need the solid foundation to build on
  12. 12.  Training Quick Start Training • Your project team will need to make nitty-gritty detailed decisions about requirements, priorities, preferences • Initial training goals • Gain a good understanding of the process and vocabulary • Get some hands-on experience • Set expectations • Best practice: • Hands-on training with exercises on real, familiar content
  13. 13. Training Reality Check: • You’ll want a second training session for all the writers when it comes time to move into production, using the actual tools. Budget for it. • Your DITA trainer should use lots of hands-on exercises based on your content and your information architecture, content model and metadata model
  14. 14.  Solution Architecture Key Considerations: Scope. Schedule. Budget. • Scope: What are your key goals and requirements? • What are the business goals: yours? Your stakeholders? Your company? • Types of content • Who’s reading it? What are their goals? • Types of outputs • What are the pain points that need resolution? Answer these questions for now and over the next 3 years • Schedule • Design for a phased implementation: it may not all happen at once • Budget • Build a business case around the potential savings and value-add • What will be a reasonable budget request to start, implement in stages, and maintain
  15. 15.  Information Architecture Content Audit • Review of existing content • Identify delivery structures and use case scenarios • Discover where specialization can be beneficial • Identify reuse opportunities Content Model • What topic types to use • Build specializations • Develop strategy for organizing maps, relationships, reuse • Build metadata and/or subject scheme model • Build templates for new topics and publications
  16. 16. Information Architecture Reality Check: • This is not a one-time activity – it’s a process • Your IA will evolve as you migrate more content: convert and publish
  17. 17.  Content conversion to XML • • • • • Develop mapping rules between current unstructured content and your new content model Formulate specs for migrating content elements such as index, conditionalization, variables, metadata, context sensitivity strings… Prepare pre- and post-conversion checklists: • The content will need work to get into the proper structure • Some work is easier to do before the conversion, some after Coordinate with style sheet developers Review conversion spreadsheets • Lists all headings in the document • Set the granularity for splitting into topics • Change titles, add indexes or metadata, merge conditionalization…
  18. 18. Content conversion to XML Reality Check: • The content will need work to get into the proper structure • Time spent preparing for the conversion will have huge impact on the rest of your process and time to achieve production-ready results • When developing the conversion specs, use a comprehensive representative sample • Will save time later; reduces need to stop and tweak the conversion tools for unexpected styles or patterns • The conversion process essentially infers structure based on styles – paragraph and character • Be rigorous with the styles used in the input documents • It is irritating grunt work to check and re-apply styles, but it will save huge effort later • Even one character styled wrong has potential to throw off the conversion algorithm for that topic
  19. 19.  Style sheet development • • • • • • Identify detailed formatting requirements for each output format: PDF, HTML, help, mobile, dynamic web, eLearning… Coordinate with the information architect and conversion team Be prepared • Have all the fonts available • Invest the time to put together good test data, based on your IA, that simulates each combination of tagging and structure • Test data should account for how it will look coming out of the CMS • Communicate clear and detailed formatting requirements Develop style sheets based on industry best practices Localize after the base language (usually English) is working well • You do not need separate style sheets for each language… Document the style sheets: parameters, outputclasses…
  20. 20. Style sheet development Reality Check: • Job isn’t finished until you can publish real content from the CMS • Ideally, for the style sheet beta testing, publish converted content from the CMS • Localized style sheets cannot be completed until tested with real translated content • Leave room in your budget for tweaking the style sheets • As you migrate more content, you will encounter new patterns in the tagging • Style sheets are very sensitive to differences in tagging, especially for PDF • Page-break rules are sometimes complex and may be tweaked over time
  21. 21.  Configure CCMS tool • • • • Configure metadata • Requires coordination with information architect and style sheet developers Integrate style sheets Configure workflow, user management Don’t sign off until you have real content uploaded and publishing properly
  22. 22. Configure CCMS tool Reality Check: • Each CMS handles metadata, classification and conditionalization differently • Each CMS handles the publishing tool-chain differently • Integration with the DITA Toolkit • Integration with PDF rendering engines Antenna House, XEP, FOP, Top Leaf … • These factors impact your information architecture, style sheets, and sometimes the document conversion
  23. 23.  Deployment • • • • • Install and test the tools – on premises or hosted Import content Validate the entire process Train your authoring team Develop a plan for migration: stop, freeze, convert, fix, import, publish, test
  24. 24.  Support • Authoring: Consider a weekly author’s forum to: • Share tagging situations they came across • Ask questions to the information architect or “go to” expert • Discuss ideas for sharing and organizing content • Discuss ideas for updating the tagging model • Tools • Allow for time and budget to tweak the style sheets and CMS tools
  25. 25. Keep in Touch! Let us know how we can help you. For additional information, contact: Yehudit Lindblom Joe Gelb U.S. Office (609) 360-0650 EMEA Office +972-2-993-8054 Follow us on Linked-In