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: 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

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.