Tag Archives: DITA

March Meeting: Leveraging Structured Authoring/DITA Techniques When All You Have are Unstructured Tools

Join us Wednesday, March 15, 2017, at the Petaluma Library from 6-8pm. The presentation, by Monique Semp, will start promptly at 6:30.

You’ve heard the buzz about structured authoring and DITA: how great it is for efficient content reuse, how it enforces consistency, how it guides our writing for topic-based presentation… But what if there’s no budget for new tools, no time for training to “become a DITA writer,” and no time to migrate legacy unstructured content? Don’t despair! You can easily leverage many structured authoring best practices even when using unstructured tools. This presentation demonstrates tool-agnostic techniques such as writing a good short description, designing task-focused documents, and increasing content reuse. You’ll also see how to use FrameMaker (unstructured), Word, and Flare features to style content semantically, standardize textual navigation aids, add metadata, and perform multi-channel publishing. Whether you’re a DITA beginner, a structured authoring guru forced to use unstructured tools, or a strategist contemplating a legacy conversion project, you can immediately apply the techniques in this presentation to your daily work.

Monique Semp is a Senior STC member, and has won numerous STC Touchstone and Berkeley competition awards of merit and excellence. Monique began her career as a software engineer writing PL/M and C code for automated train control (the “people movers” in airports) and the accompanying user manuals. Her career evolved and she’s been a technical writer since 2001, documenting a broad range of applications such as early Java-based mobile geo-location applications, consumer product review platforms, and internet security. She has her own company, Write Quick, Inc., and provides many technical writing services, including API references, programming guides, configuration manuals, and technical processes and procedures.

Please RSVP to <info2@northbaycommunicators.org>

The Petaluma Library is located at 100 Fairgrounds Drive in Petaluma. Take E. Washington Street south from 101, then left on Fairgrounds Drive. Parking may be limited, so please leave an extra few minutes in case you have to park elsewhere and walk.

Our October 2010 Meeting: Publishing PDFs from DITA

At our last meeting, Scott Prentice, chapter webmaster and president of Leximation, Inc., presented a concise summary of the motivations and issues involved in using the Darwin Information Typing Architecture to produce PDFs. Why use DITA at all? By using XML to author in a topic-oriented structure, DITA lets you rearrange topics and reuse them easily, depending on the deliverables (paper? PDA? online help?) you want from the same source material.

Isn’t this a wonderful thing? Yes, it can certainly be, depending on the nature and size of the enterprise and the amount and different types of content required–but it is not for everyone, and you had better choose your approach carefully from the start.

The great value that Scott provided in our online session was in detailing the various options. How much “manual” control to do you need (and have the technical resources to support)? How much built-in support do you need (and have the budget for)? What is the volume of your output and projection for future need, and how many “seats” do you need licenses for? These are just a few of the questions you must ask before heading down the DITA direction, because what looks like a simpler, more affordable approach at first could turn out to be an expensive, painful trap.

For a concise listing of the products, prices, and particulars of a variety of commercial DITA applications, you can’t do much better than review the brief summary of DITA issues that Scott has provided. Read it and be wise.

Introduction to DITA Workshop in Cupertino

On August 7, 2010 at DeAnza College in Cupertino, the STC Silicon Valley chapter will have an “Introduction to DITA Workshop.” Some of the topics covered will be DITA concepts, tasks, references, DITA maps, tools and technologies (DITA Open Toolkit, XML Mind). There will also be hands-on examples so students will work on pieces they can include in their portfolios.

Register before July 25, 2010 and pay only $60 for STC Members and Full-Time Students and $75 for Non-members. Register after July 25, 2010 and the fee goes up to $75 for STC Members and Full-Time Students and $100 for Non-members.

To register visit http://stcsv.wufoo.com/forms/intro-to-dita-workshop/

Meeting: Spring Networking Social at Maguire’s Pub in Petaluma

A good time was had by all at our spring networking social at Maguire’s on May 20. We had a good turnout, and discussed all sort of interesting topics. The officers discussed some of the proposed changes to the chapter website as well as the new meeting style, which will be a mix of virtual and in-person meetings to encourage attendance by those people too far away to attend in person. Monique and I spoke about our experiences at the STC Summit, and Linda won the drawing for the free license of DITA-FMx (for enhanced DITA authoring in FrameMaker).

I hope to see everyone at the next social!