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
Topic: Overview of what the DITA TC has been up to lately and the top 5 changes that were identified for future improvements to the DITA standard.
Speaker: Yas Etessam, Blast Radius
Topic: Overview of best practices for using ditamaps and relationship tables to manage linking.
Speaker: Carolyn Henry, IBM
Presentation materials: DITASIG_Prez.ppt [0.7MB]