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Archive for the category “DITA”

Best Practices are Always Best

If asked by a relatively small company to recommend tools and workflows for a moderately skilled author to create, manage, and deliver a body of content that might need to be consumed on multiple devices and exchanged with corporate wikis, websites, or other content repositories, what would you recommend?

This topic has long been close to my heart!


The most logical answer these days would be DITA or some XML authoring standard. When you use something that is non- proprietary, open, and standard, you have a better chance of withstanding the pace of changing technologies and being able to integrate with other systems without blowing a gasket.

DITA authoring tools have come a long way to be fairly simple to manage and deal with. Authoring in DITA is no longer the pain point it once was. Neither is storage, as you can now use SharePoint, or a number of well priced cloud solutions, such as DocZone or EasyDITA, or traditional locally hosted CCMSs, such as Blue Stream or Ixiasoft. SiberSafe even is offering their repository for free.

The pain point for DITA is still having to custom build the output transforms or customize the workflows. You almost have to be a programmer to handle that. Most authoring groups would prefer to be able to change their own outputs. WebWorks is a more writer-friendly tool for creating output and it takes DITA inputs. The WebWorks team have a nice selection of PDF, Help, and mobile device formats. I have been wanting to try it out for quite a while now, and  I suggest contacting WebWorks to get their white paper about linking their tool to DITA.

When you use tools that make it easier to produce outputs from DITA, or when you elect to use proprietary tools, like MadCap Flare and even the Adobe Communications Suite, you have to accept that you must live within their BOX. When you try to do things that these vendors have not built into their proprietary tools, you spend a lot of time trying to build out the customizations you need.

Ultimately, it depends on the specific requirements at hand. Today, there are so many options, including documentation frameworks like Dozouki and Vook for ePub. So, in my heart of hearts, I would stick to best practices and do not skip the requirements analysis and design phase. Even if it is done casually!


Treat Content Like a Corporate Asset & Increase User Satisfaction

Giving readers fast and easy access to information they need to get their jobs done is the goal of every technical writer, content developer, or content manager. But figuring out how to do this often means rethinking how you treat your content, choosing new authoring and publishing tools, and ensuring that the solution can adapt as technology changes. These changes take time and have many layers of complexity. The good news is that sticking to industry best practices and proven tools helps simplify the effort and puts you on the path to treating your content like a corporate asset.

Just Systems XMetal Author

DITA authoring tool

In this live demo using XMetaL, an affordable content management system, and DITA, TechProse content strategist Paula Toth will show how TechProse helped a large, global shipping firm put the pieces together to reduce publication costs and production time, while also increasing reader satisfaction. During this webinar, Paula will cover:

  • Identifying pains and drivers for change
  • Creating solutions to address pain
  • Selecting content for a pilot project
  • Understanding the components of an automated authoring and publishing system
  • Deciding when DITA is right
  • Making decisions about authoring and publishing tools
  • Content conversion
  • Publishing to multiple output targets
  • Getting the results

Join Paula and learn how you can increase YOUR readers’ satisfaction with structured content and automated publishing!


Paula Toth, Best Practices Leader/Single Sorceress at TechProse, has time-tested methods for helping corporations envision how content assets can be put to work to increase user adoption of products and services. These methods include careful content curation, as well as automated content creation and delivery for web and print output targets to multiple devices. To do this, she uses efficient single-source and structured authoring techniques coupled with information architecture, taxonomy management, writing and formatting style standards, and topic-based reusable content. To these techniques, she adds careful selection of content management and automation tools. Paula is in very mindful that today’s content delivery systems and processes must adjust quickly to changing technology demands. With this approach she ensures that the cost of creating, storing, and publishing content is sustainable, and most importantly, readers have the best possible experience with the content.

Paula has done projects for FedEx, Tom Sawyer Software, Integral Systems, Wells Fargo Bank, and Safeway, to name just a few.

Register for the webinar today! Can’t make it to the webinar? Register anyway and receive the webinar recording.

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