Meeting: DITA CCMS: Journey to Maturity, the latest with XDocs

Nenad Furtula, a partner and VP of Sales and Marketing at Bluestream, joined us remotely from Vancouver, Canada to discuss CCMS trends and demonstrate the latest updates in their XDocs CCMS. Specifically:

  • Look at the fundamental feature set of a DITA-enabled component content management system (CCMS).
  • Discuss the changing trends in the DITA space and how they are impacting the feature set and end-user expectations.
  • Live software demonstration of XDocs CCMS.

Some topics covered:

  • Overall Introduction to CCMS
  • Metadata support (web ontology language – OWL)
  • WebBased Review and Authoring
  • Knowledge Base – web-based delivery platform

The first 15 minutes cover concepts and background followed by a 45 minute demo covering all aspects of authoring and publishing with XDocs, then wrapping up with 30 minutes of Q&A. This was a very informative demo and discussion!

Meeting: SDL LiveContent Reach and Create Demonstration

Scott McNall, Senior Solution Consultant at SDL, demonstrated a set of new and updated tools which enhance DITA authoring and delivery both within your company and for your customers. SDL LiveContent is a suite of tools that can be used together or individually for managing, authoring, and publishing DITA content.

  • SDL LiveContent Architect (formerly SDL Trisoft) organizes and manages all structured content, so that it can be easily reused, shared, filtered and delivered to any channel.
  • SDL LiveContent Create (formerly SDL Xopus) is a powerful, browser-based editor that removes the complexity of XML and makes it easy for anyone to create and edit structured content.
  • SDL LiveContent Reach (formerly SDL LiveContent DITA) empowers companies to deliver smart, interactive product content that is tailored to customers’ needs and delivered on the right devices, at the right time.

Scott spoke about the convergence of two independent trends: 1) the growing focus on customer engagement and feedback as a company strategy and 2) extending collaboration with contributors and subject matter experts to author with DITA content along with technical communicators. He also gave a very interesting and informative demonstration of the SDL LiveContent suite of tools. There were lots of good questions from the group.

Meeting: It Was With You All Along: Adaptive DITA!

Don Day, Co-Founder of and Co-Chair of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee (and all around good guy) gave us a though provoking presentation on the options for producing adaptive content from DITA source. Here’s the meeting teaser ..

What do shortdescs and conditional processing have to do with Adaptive Content, that trending phrase in Web content circles? As with comedy, it’s all in the timing and delivery. Don will give his perspectives on the popular Adaptive Content conversation and show how DITA has always been adaptive (depending on timing and delivery), followed by discussion and hilarity.

The slides were authored as DITA topics (as you might expect) and presented using a Prezi-like tool called Impress.js, and are available from ..

A recording of the meeting is available in two parts. The first 48 minutes is the main presentation, and the remaining 33 minutes is the discussion that followed.

If you attended this meeting, I encourage you to add comments and include any notes you took as well as any additional comments or observations you’d like to offer. Otherwise, we’d appreciate hearing your thoughts or experiences with adaptive content and DITA.

Meeting: RocketSled – Convert from Word to DITA and Author DITA in Word

Don Smith, Senior Vice President for Crowell Solutions, presented an in-depth look at their application called RocketSled™. RocketSled is a full-featured XML editor that runs inside of Microsoft Word. It allows you to author and create XML documents in Word as well as convert from Word to XML, offering round-tripping of files from Word to DITA.

He also presented DITA InMap editing. This is a feature of RocketSled which allows you to edit topic content directly from the DITA map, providing a more linear, multi-topic, authoring experience.

Compared to other Word-based XML editors I’ve seen, this solution seemed quite robust and feature rich. It provides access to all of the DITA attributes and elements (DITA 1.2 model), and would be fairly easy for the novice or occasional author to jump in and produce well structured content. (Of course, it does help if the author is reasonably familiar with the DITA model and topic-based authoring.) Although the current implementation supports the DITA 1.2 “model,” it does not yet support all of the features of that model (specifically, the various referencing features). We were told that these will be available soon.

I can see the InMap editing feature being quite popular, and the import, export, round-tripping looked to be very well thought out. As long as the DITA files produced by RocketSled are valid DITA (which I have no reason to think they are not), it should play nicely with other editors, and could fill that void as an authoring tool for those who want to provide content but don’t want to deal with the overhead of more full-featured DITA editors.

I look forward to seeing this tool again after completing the integration of the DITA 1.2 feature set.

For more information on RocketSled, visit the Crowell Solutions Blog:
Converting Word to XML – Introducing RocketSled 2 XML

Meeting: Plan, Produce, Publish: DITA content from idea to output

Bernard Aschwanden, founder and President of Publishing Smarter provided an informative and entertaining presentation on the lifecycle of a DITA project from planning through production and publishing to various formats. This meeting drew a good number of people “in-house” as well as many remote visitors from around the country, and one person from Malaysia.

Bernard starts off by scoping and planning the project with a spreadsheet (see Estimates.xlsx) which lists the topic type, file name, title, short description and other properties of each file to be created. This not only helps in the planning process but with a little setup (and programming) you can use this information to generate the map and stubs for all topics and a prototype of the documentation deliverable in whatever formats are needed. This initial prototype can be used as the first draft of the document to be signed off by all those involved. You can use the spreadsheet to track progress (or the lack thereof) throughout the project.

Bernard demonstrated that with DITA, “content is king,” and the tools used for authoring and publishing aren’t as important as they were before XML authoring. He worked with the files in his sample project in a number of editors, and outlined the strengths and weaknesses of each tool (oXygen, XMetaL, FrameMaker, and Serna Free). Because your content lives in XML, you’re free to mix and match editors as needed for your workflow. Different authors may have different needs, and DITA can accommodate that quite nicely as long as you’re working with a DITA-compliant editor. He then imported the content into a CMS (easyDITA), to show the potential benefits of a browser-based editor.

Be sure to check out Bernard’s website, in particular the resources area ..

Thanks Bernard!

Meeting: Bluestream XDocs DITA CMS with Oxygen and FrameMaker

Nenad Furtula, of Bluestream, and Scott Prentice, of Leximation, presented a multi-tool demonstration of the XDocs authoring and publishing features.

Nenad demoed (remotely from Vancouver, Canada) the latest features of the XDocs CMS. In particular he showed the Author/SME review workflow using Oxygen Author and XDocs Explorer with the XDocs SME Review Module. He also demonstrated various options for publishing through the XDocs Explorer.

As an example of a collaborative workflow, Scott (presenting locally) checked out the same files from the XDocs CMS and made edits using FrameMaker and DITA-FMx. He then demonstrated automated publishing using FMx-Auto and FrameMaker to create a PDF from DITA files pulled from the XDocs CMS.

After the presentation, we had lengthy discussions of options for authoring and publishing DITA content .. a really fun meeting!

Meeting: Using SharePoint to Manage, Review and Publish DITA Content

Brian Meek, of DITA Exchange presented a compelling demo of using SharePoint with DITA Exchange to manage, review, and publish DITA content. Lots of questions and discussion followed the formal demo making this one of the longest meetings we’ve ever had. Thanks Brian!

Info from Brian:

If your company uses Microsoft SharePoint, and you work with DITA content, please make an effort to attend this session and learn about the current capabilities of DITA Exchange software.

The session will address the combination of SharePoint and DITA from two perspectives: For those in need of a complete DITA implementation (Authoring process, CCMS, Review & Approval workflows, Multichannel publishing, etc.); and for those looking to augment an existing DITA implementation by taking advantage of SharePoint for collaboration & workflows, data integration, search, Web publishing and automated document assembly through Microsoft Word Templates or an integrated instance of the DITA Open Toolkit.

We will demonstrate how SharePoint sites can be built using dynamically-rendered DITA content, and we’ll also look at using various XML authoring tools with SharePoint, including a Microsoft Word “Customization” designed to guide business users and SMEs in the creation and editing of valid DITA topics.

We’re looking forward to an interactive, “show & tell” discussion about how the DITA information architecture and XML publishing model adds value to SharePoint, and how SharePoint provides an effective platform upon which we’ve been able to build sophisticated CCMS capabilities publishing processes…

If you would like more info on using SharePoint and DITA Exchange please contact Brian @ DITA Exchange.

Meeting: Generating PDFs from DITA using DITA-FMx and FMx-Auto

Scott Prentice, president of Leximation, Inc., presented a demo of DITA to PDF publishing through FrameMaker and DITA-FMx. The new FMx-Auto addon for DITA-FMx, unlocks the API features in DITA-FMx to allow automated processing and publishing (in particular PDF publishing). With FMx-Auto installed, you can create your own scripts using the FDK (FrameMaker Developers Kit), FrameScript, or ExtendScript. Or, you can use the AutoFM plugin provided with FMx-Auto, which lets you open, process, and publish your DITA map into a PDF.

DITA-FMx supports FrameMaker versions 7.2, 8, 9, and 10, and FMx-Auto is available in server and desktop versions depending on your workflow and needs.

Even if you’re not using FrameMaker for authoring, you can take advantage of its superior and easy to use PDF publishing capabilities.

» Introductory slides (PDF)

» Presentation/demo video (1 hour)