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

New Meeting Format/Week/Day

We’ve decided to move to a mostly virtual format for the meetings, since it’s been hard to get enough “real” people to attend, but lots of “virtual” interest. Along with this change, we’re going to move the meetings to a new week of the month and day of the week. The new day is the Third Monday of the month (unless that’s a holiday, and we’ll use the second Monday).

Since the third Monday in February is President’s Day, we’ll have this month’s meeting on February 11.

More information will be posted when it’s available, but if you’re interested in presenting or guiding a discussion on your favorite DITA topic, please contact me.