The CMS 2006 conference in April in San Francisco showed the energy and enthusiasm that DITA is helping to build for structured content and topic-based authoring, as well as support for content management. We had about 325 people at the conference with about 100 or so attending the DITA track each hour.
We're now planning for DITA Europe the first week in November in Frankfurt. I'd like to hear from interested people in Europe about taking part. We should have a call for papers on the conference website soon.
I'm pleased with the reception of the new DITA User Guide, now being shipped. It will be listed on Amazon soon but is now available on the Comtech web site at http://www.comtech-serv.com/dita.shtml
Gee, I'm observing in my first several blog posts here, that I'm spending more time worrying about fonts and presentation than my content.
Where's that DITA backend we need for wikis and blogs?
(as I wonder how this one will look after submitted...)
It's been great to read the blog posts from CMS 2006 - I was there in 2005, when DITA had its first full track at a conference, and the excitement was building then. It's amazing how far we've come in just a year: from one or two CMS vendors with DITA support to all of them! Although I suspect that as with the editors, the level of support varies, and features will continue to improve over time: typically supporting topics first, then maps, and finally specialization. Still, the level of focus on DITA as a common standard across CMSs is amazing, and one year since the standard was published is a very fast time to achieve consensus in an industry.
At CMS 2006, Bruce Esrig of Lucent spoke on the topic of Cognitive Load of XML.
Bruce is a deep thinker. (He's also a charter member of the DITA OASIS TC.) This was a very thoughtful and thought-provoking presentation.
I was ready for a ppt on "how to overcome" this cognitive load, but Bruce makes the opposite case - that this cognitive load makes XML more attractive, both as a way to provide content to our audience that demands highly flexible and highly available information and also to the content developers. XML authoring requires a new combination of conceptual skills and practical expertise in envisioning information design and creating the actual content. He nicely ties these thoughts into chunks, templates, standard content, guidelines, and collaboration.
a few more stray thoughts about my CMS 2006 experience...
Keep pushing topics
There's still a lot of need to keep pushing the topic-based paradigm. The book-oriented focus still reigns supreme for a lot of content developers and deliverers. Though more people "get" it than don't, there's plenty of pressure to relax the topic-based approach and allow for creating content with chapter-length topics with deeply nested sections and relaxed typing. We need to learn how to manage this, so that DITA *can* effectively extend its reach beyond technical docs, but also keep the virtues of topic-based, structured semantics in place.