Don Day's blog
Basics for XML editors
One of the joys I get from working with the DITA Open Toolkit is seeing the extent to which it helps run the production business of so many writing teams. The DITA OT team has done a lot of work to set up some major interfaces in it to make it run in more places, with more options and fewer restrictions, and to make it both embeddable and pluggable, greatly increasing its versatility for both individual users and for commercial authoring tools.
Endings always signal new beginnings. As the DITA 2006 conference draws to a close, its time to reflect on the meta lessons that are emerging from the presentations, discussions, and experiences.
Many thanks to Kay Ethier for hosting this conference. The facilities have all been good for the sessions and breakouts. And RTP has many interesting venues (food and entertainment) to offer the traveller who has some spare time and can find their way to these destinations. I got to hear the Robbie Reid Band do a rendition of Jimi Hendrix' "Little Wing" that was truly poignant--and great blues from those bros.
I'm on an Internet--oh oh--Radio:
Today started out differently for some of us. Due to some scheduling issues, I ended up being the first guest on the "Live from DITA 2006" MyTechnologyLawyer.com radio show with Scott Draughon. A picture below shows Dave Schell on his stint, with Scott Abel in the foreground directing the remote studio activities here. What a trip! I think we did a good job, and Abel says that the connections were filled right from the start. If you were unable to tune in live, remember that these shows are recorded and you can listen to them later.
The DITA 2006 conference has started its regular program. Dave Schell, the keynote speasker, presented some IBM experiences with publishing, outlining the costs of some of the previous ways of publishing product documentation, how those experiences informed on the design of DITA, and how the DITA model has brought about specific savings on several projects that have had one or more publishing cycles by now.
Cost avoidance is one of the key issues that Dave discussed. With traditional publishing, the cut/copy/paste penchant of writers was identified as one of the main causes for increasing the amount of review and update as various information sets "forked" from some original version. In moving to a topic-oriented architecture, one team was able to relegate up to 80% of its information as "common", now completely out of the picture for ongoing review and translation and other handling. Another team working on a completely different product got up to 77% common reuse at the topic level (including some conref reuse as well--phrase-level reuse by reference).