The Central Texas DITA Users Group (CTDUG) exists to share and advance knowledge and adoption of DITA in the central Texas region.
Creating a successful context-sensitive help solution requires the cooperation and respect of two groups which have a history of poor working relations: Development and Technical Publications. Each group has an established "best practice", i.e. "the way", that ensures a successful deliverable. Tension comes from an unwillingness to compromise on those established practices. Compromise means change, change that will either enable the creation of useful customer solutions or change that results in broken builds, failure, and finger pointing. Success is achieved by building trust and understanding between these groups before moving on to technical affairs.
Stan Doherty and Ben Allums
Ben Allums is currently the Director of Engineering at WebWorks, a division of Quadralay Corporation. Ben started working with the company founders, Tony and Jeff, back in 1994 to create one of the earliest single-source publishing tools, WebWorks Publisher. Over the years, Ben has evolved both the tools and authoring practices necessary to deliver context-sensitive help solutions for technical documentation teams across industries and help technologies.
Stan Doherty (firstname.lastname@example.org) is currently Director of Technical Publications at Verivue Inc., a Massachusetts networking startup. Stan has been involved with OLH (online help) development for over 25 years:
Stan has been working with DITA-authored OLH as a member of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee and OASIS DITA TC Help Subcommittee.
We sort of miss the snacks of old (back when hi-tech meant money for such things). Might we suggest that if you want, bring your own beverage and a box of snacks that you would like to share with others? (Apologies, but Freescale policy prohibits alcoholic beverages on-site, so leave your longnecks behind, please.)
May 2009: DITA Case Study at BMC Software with Shalini Komarla, Senior Product Developer and David Brainard, System Architect in Information Design and Development.
March 2009: DITA2Wiki Open Source Project with Lisa Dyer, Lombardi Software.
January 2009: IBM DITA Wiki: Growing DITA Across the Enterprise by Don Day.
October 2008: DITA Maturity Model Group discussion with Sally Derrick, Borland, Colleen Reilly, Borland, Lisa Dyer, Lombardi Software, Noreen Mcmahan, Freescale, Tom Ciahak, Freescale, Mike Austin, Freescale. Notes from the session are on Anne Gentle's blog. The maturity model can be found in these locations:
September 2008: In a second successful joint meeting via conference with the Research Triangle Park DITA Users Group, we learned about DITA, metadata, and taxonomy. The panelists included Paul Arellanes, information architect, IBM, Robert Berry, information developer, IBM, and Mike Harris, information architect, IBM. Their presentations are available on this wiki at DITA, Metada, and Taxonomy.
August 2008: In a joint meeting with the Research Triangle Park DITA Users Group (via conference call), Robert Anderson, of IBM and Chief architect of the DITA Open Toolkit, presented DITA 1.2: Understanding the upcoming release. DITA is still evolving and the OASIS Technical Committee responsible for the standard is actively working on a draft of the next DITA release, which will include significantly more features than the previous (1.1) release. Robert described plans for the release, what will be coming, and when; with in-depth discussions of many of the new features, explaining where they came from and how they will be used. He also gave a preview of several of the new features using the latest test build of the DITA Open Toolkit, and outlined what toolkit developers will be working on in the near future. Download Robert's slides and sample files here (.zip).
May 2008: Mike Wethington presented Agile Development: Challenges in Transforming Technical Communications Departments. Mike Wethington is a Certified Scrum Practioner who runs the Agile Development and Technical Communications group at the The Content Wrangler Community. He is the manager of technical communications at Troux Technologies. Due to an interest expressed in Agile at previous DITA user group meetings, he has agreed to present an overview of Agile, give a SCRUM case study from Troux, discuss documentation and the vertical paradigm and offer some Agile keys to success. You can download the presentation handouts here: Agile Development: Challenges in Transforming TechComm Departments (.zip).
April 2008: John Hunt, DITA Architect in the Lotus Information Development Center at IBM and DITA Learning and Training Content Specialization SC chair, presented Using DITA Content for Learning Content Development. He gave an overview of work being done on the new Learning and Training Content specialization that will be part of OASIS DITA 1.2 release. He then followed up with a live demonstration of creating, assembling, and delivering topic-based learning and training content, delivered both as a SCORM-compliant package and as simple XHTML.
February 2008: What does DITA have to do with Wiki? — Part 2. Lisa Dyer of Lombardi Software and Alan J. Porter of Quadralay WebWorks picked up where last month's discussion left off with more real-world examples of using Wikis for collaboration, coupled with DITA for publishing. See Lisa's and Alan's slides for some great ideas on using Wikis in "real world" situations, as well as Anne Gentle's blog entry with notes from the session.
January 2008: What does DITA have to do with Wiki? — Part 1. Anne Gentle (Advanced Solutions International and just write click), Ben Allums (Quadralay WebWorks), Chris Almond (IBM) and Ragan Haggard (Sun) offered up a lively panel of folks who are currently using wikis in innovative ways to enhance technical communications. See Anne Gentle's blog entry, Chris Almond's blog entry, or Stewart Mader's blog entry for reactions and slides about the session.
December 2007: Eric Sirois, of IBM, presented Using DITA for Eclipse Infocenters and Projects (from Canada via the web). This was an extremely valuable session for anyone considering using DITA to consolidate corporate information on a centralized web site, or for delivering component-based information. An on-demand playback of the presentation is available.
October 2007: Don Day presented Hands-On XSL (XSL Even a Manager Can Understand), a simple, model-based demonstration of the principles behind the processing of XML content such as DITA. Don said it would be fun, and it most definitely was! Watch this space for a link to an on-demand playback of the session.
September 2007: Bob Beims and Tom Cihak of Freescale presented a very condensed recap of the 2007 Best Practices Conference that they'd attended the prior week. An impromptu "vote" tally was kept as various presentations were discussed, and Bob took the action item to recruit several of the BP speakers to present at future CTDUG sessions.
August 2007: Michael Carey, who leads Mark Logic's efforts in DITA and technical information delivery, presented Dynamic Content Delivery – Get more value from your investment in DITA. The focus was on the fact that while initial DITA implementations have primarily targeted static publishing to pre-defined PDF, HTML and Help formats, the real promise of DITA lies in supporting dynamic, personalized content delivery. He finished the discussion with a demo of what O'Reilly Media created with Mark Logic's platform: SafariU.
July 2007: Derek Saldaña of Freescale Semiconductor demonstrated CodeWarrior® DITA Builder, an adaptation of the Open Toolkit used to deliver two production information sets from DITA content.
June 2007: Eliot Kimber, of Really Strategies, presented a real-time demonstration of how to create a working DITA specialization, following the procedures outlined in his DITA specialization tutorial, including a brief discussion of the analysis behind why and when to specialize. An on-demand playback of the presentation is available.
May 2007: Scott Stark, of IBM, presented "DITA Linking and Relationship Tables" based on the experience of his team in Silicon Valley. He talked in depth regarding how-to information and practical tips, from a true "in the trenches" perspective.
April 2007: Robin Sloan, Arbortext Product Manager at PTC, presented ideas for overcoming some of the pitfalls/challenges in a DITA implementation. She shared her particular expertise borrowed from her experience in implementations at solutions at some of Arbortext's most strategic customer accounts, including John Deere, Toyota and Abbott Labs.
March 2007: Stories from the Trenches, with France Baril, of IXIASoft. Her presentation was based on true DITA implementation stories, and offered protection against monsters (i.e. vanishing topics, related links spider net, etc.) that might be haunting writers and shed light around scary dark shadows that are lurking about and trying to get into your technical departments.
February 2007: Sean Angus, Manager of Field Technical Support for XyEnterprise, recounted how "DITA Came To Life" at RIMM (the presentation was originally given at the 2006 Best Practices Conference). Sean was the project manager on this effort to move from unstructured FrameMaker to DITA publishing in one year.
January 2007: Michael Priestley of IBM gave an abridged version of his presentation "Creating Task-based Navigation with the Darwin Information Typing Architecture" (co-authored with Amber Swope), followed by a live demo of using IBM's freeware Task Modeler tool to create such navigation systems. On-demand replay of the January 2007 meeting.
July 2006: Don Day of IBM discussed “More than just another XML editor” to help us all with editor evaluations that are specific to DITA support. Notes from the July 2006 meeting.
April 2006: Two speakers shared their thoughts after attending two related conferences this spring. Bob Beims from Freescale shared his thoughts on attending the DITA 2006 conference at North Carolina State in Raleigh, NC, the first conference of its kind. Next, Paul Arellanes, an information architect at IBM, gave his impressions of the Content Management Strategies 2006 conference in San Francisco. Notes from the April 2006 meeting.
February 2006: Kristen Thomas spoke to us about converting the AIX doc set to DITA from SGML. Don Day descriptively called it "DITA from the trenches." Notes from the Feb 2006 meeting.
January 2006: JoAnn Hackos spoke at the Central Texas DITA User Group meeting held at BMC Software on January 25, 2006 in a talk titled, "Moving from Books to Topic-oriented Writing." Notes from the Jan 2006 meeting.