Self on Help
Thoughts from the OASIS DITA Help Subcommittee Chair
There have been many discussions within OASIS DITA committees about discovering (and removing) the impediments to DITA adoption. It's probably fair to say that the discussions have discovered there are many roadblocks, but so far haven't resulted in clear ways to remove them.
There has been some renewed discussion within the DITA Technical Committee on what it means to be "DITA conformant". It is timely that this topic has been resurrected, because many Help Authoring Tools are now claiming DITA support of some sort or another. A draft clause in the DITA 1.2 specification proposes that tools claiming DITA support must provide a conformance statement listing what DITA features they actually implement.
A question was raised recently on the Yahoo! DITA Users mailing list relating to linking via a URL to a specific page in a collection of HTML. The requirement was for the target page to open within the "tri-pane" frameset so that the table of contents was visible.
A number of solutions were mooted, but Martin Polley eventually came up with a solution to fitted the particular requirement (but not necessarily all requirements).
Martin added a function to the top-level frameset of the collection. The function contained the following code:
The DITA Help Subcommittee is discussing a proposal to create a new <help-context> element to hold metadata required for context-sensitive Help. The proposal would see the new element fit under the <topicmeta> element in the ditamap, and/or in the <prolog> element in the topic. The element would hold context numbers and/or context strings, and/or a reference to a window description. (There would need to be a separate element in the ditamap that would store the characteristics of a window named in the context-help element.)
Last week at the WritersUA Conference in Portland, I chaired a "Developing Help with DITA" forum alongside Alan Houser, Matthew Ellison and Scott Prentice (all on the DITA Help Sub Committee). There was a lot of interest from delegates (the majority of whom are Help authors) in using DITA, although most are only 'testing the water'.