Using Dita To Provide Consistent Communications To The Public

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Information about Using Dita To Provide Consistent Communications To The Public

Published on October 8, 2009

Author: pie1120



A slightly beefier version of a presentation that I gave at the XML in Practice conference in Arlington, VA on October 1st. It discusses how a Federal Agency is working to implement DITA to solve their publishing needs, and the tools involved.

Using DITA to Provide Consistent Communications to the Public Laurence Hart Washington Consulting, Inc.

Agenda Introduction The Plan for the System The Challenges and Lessons Learned Wrap-up

The Problem The goal of government is to serve the people…. …but paper seems to be a key output. LOTS OF PAPER!!!

Government Publication Challenges Evolving formats over the years WordStar > Word Perfect > Word Physical storage for paper records Content creation is process intensive Consistency between publications is hard to maintain

Enter DITA

DITA at 10,000 Feet Darwin Information Typing Architecture XML publishing based on Topics Each Topic is written to stand alone Three Topic types: Task, Concept, and Reference Originally created by IBM Donated to OASIS Reuse of content is a key driver for implementing DITA

Publication Project Background Federal Agency publishes lots of content Manuals: Internal users Guidelines: External users Historically authored in Word Cut-and-paste into XML for print processing Publish as PDF and HTML Published on cycle Manual and repetitive process

The Agency’s Plan Move all publications to DITA Standardize the structure of all publication content Enable reuse of content between publications Increase publication output channels Keep PDF for print Add Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals for large documents Identify supporting tools EMC Documentum Content Server (including X-Hive, now XDB) Quark XPress Author XyEnterprise XPP (already owned)

High-Level System Design

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Content Creation Challenges Authors liked their Word styles Software is licensed per user Authors and reviewers throughout entire agency Not enough need to give license to everyone for once a year task Quark Express needed to be configured Training required for those configuring Defining the styles and formats was an iterative process with Authors Authors don’t trust automatic content reuse XML editor specific tags not handled consistently by editors

Content Publication Challenges Interfacing Documentum to XPP Used Web Services Development required to automate the interface for users Assembling DITA Topics for publication Manuals consist of multiple topics Need to be able to publish manuals as sections or completely Separate reviews for publication content and formatted output Section 508 compliance reviews are time consuming and require coordination

Key Lessons Focus on the Authors, their acceptance of the new processes and technologies is critical Invest in tools, if things are too hard to use or don’t work right, people will switch back to Word Training is critical One step at a time, don’t move everything to DITA at once

Future Plans for the System Manage images natively in Documentum Now “managed” on desktops and email More dynamic publishing Remove schedule and update the print PDF automatically Increase reuse Switch for notifications of change to shared content sources

Thank You

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