Meeting: PDF from DITA with the MiramoPDF DITA-OT plugin!

Despite the claim that PDF is dead, it remains one of the most popular document delivery formats. If you’re using DITA and publishing to PDF, you know there are limited options for producing high quality output. XSL-FO is very popular (it’s “free”, right?), and can do a good job, but its technical aspects can be challenging and costly. FrameMaker is a good option, especially if you have Frame expertise in-house, but that also has its issues.

Now, a new option is available which combines the benefits of both XSL-FO and FrameMaker. MiramoPDF provides a fast and reliable path from DITA to PDF using their enterprise level Miramo publishing engine and the MiramoDesigner GUI template layout tool. The publishing workflow is handled by the DITA-OT, so it’s easy to integrate into most existing systems.

Miramo (from Datazone), had been in the database to PDF publishing business for close to 30 years. Their platform gives you the flexibility, speed, and scalability to create all types of sophisticated documents (hundreds of documents per hour, or single documents containing thousands of pages including indexes and TOCs). And now, they are making this platform available to the DITA community.

Download the current (beta) version of MiramoPDF and MiramoDesigner from (link at bottom of page).

Scott Prentice is planning to demo this software at 7pm PDT on Thursday, April 20.
Any additional details will be posted here and sent to the SVDIG Yahoo group.
RSVP to Scott .. he will send a GoToMeeting invite (this is a virtual meeting).

More info to come!

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: 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: DITA and Drupal — the “Dynamic Duo”

Anna van Raaphorst and Dick Johnson (the Dynamic Duo!) presented an update to their work on developing “mash-up” websites using DITA and Drupal. We had a good turnout for both in-house and virtual attendees.

» Presentation (PPT)

The presentation was a discussion and demonstration of three of our rich-text, model websites:

What motivated us to create the model websites?

We kept hearing this story over and over again from our clients. Does it sound familiar to you?
As the owner, manager, or creator of technical information, youíre constantly trying to figure out how best to achieve accurate, useful, and accessible information solutions of high business value to your clients and customers. You also worry a lot about how to take advantage of the best standards, tools, and publishing environments available, and how to do it all on a shrinking budget.

In particular, you want the information you produce to be of professional quality, accurate, and essential. You would like to offer it to your users in print, on the web, and on multiple popular devices.

Structured information written to the DITA or DocBook standard often demonstrates these characteristics. However, depending on the experience level of the professional staff, the published result may fall short in solving your users’ day-to-day problems, and it may be expensive to produce.

Yes, you also want your information to be relevant, popular, and accessible. How could you attract some sharp subject matter experts (SMEs) willing to share their “in-the-trenches” knowledge as an altruistic endeavor? And wouldn’t it be nice if they were also capable writers and more than willing to update the information over time?

Unstructured information can be all of these things, but it can also be poorly written, out-of-date, and unruly to manage.

Is it possible to achieve ALL of the objectives with NONE of the common problems?

We created our model websites with this goal in mind. We decided to call our solutions “information mashups,” because they contain both structured and unstructured information that is collocated and is displayed to users as a content “collection.”

After about a year into this project we believe that this kind of DITA/Drupal content solution offers exciting and compelling possibilities, and we are pleased to share our thoughts and also learn from your experiences.

What questions will be answered in the presentation?

  • On which publishing platforms did we prototype our solutions, and how did they compare?
  • How did we develop our Drupal sites into mature models?
  • What are the key DITA and Drupal 7 features that we believe have contributed the most to our information solutions?
  • How could you make use of our models and lessons learned to build your own publishing solutions using DITA and Drupal?

Meeting: DITA without a CMS, Ben Colborn (Citrix)

Business: Remote access and virtualization, infrastructure products

Organization: Training (also Technical Publications)

Objectives: Temporarily add to functionality of XMetaL and the DITA Open Toolkit, eventually purchase a CMS to handle the same tasks (they have since moved to DocZone)

Requirements, Issues: Automate edit/review of training material, translate into multiple languages, PPT a required target, SCORM package required, search and link management issues

Key Tools: XMetaL, svn, custom tools produced in-house by Ben and others

Sample Custom Solutions: Excel/VBA macros, script to create stub topics to get writers started, search facility using JEdit, script to build SCORM package, semi-automatic transformation to PPT from DITA source

Sample Challenges: Customizing PDF output, multi-volume books, SCORM requirements, instructor requirement to use PPT

Possible Future Challenges or Barriers to Reuse: Training and publications departments are now using different CMSs (DocZone on Alfresco and Astoria)

Conclusions: You don’t need $1 million in tools to achieve some of the key CMS functionality required/useful in a DITA environment. What you learn doing custom tool production will help you choose the right commercial CMS when that opportunity presents itself.