Content Management Strategies/DITA Europe 2011 Conference Abstracts

Automating FrameMaker to DITA Conversions at IBM Sterling Commerce
Karen Buchanan – IBM Sterling Commerce
Les Burnham – Stilo International
United Kingdom

IBM Sterling Commerce products, a division of IBM's Industry Solutions Software Group, helps companies optimize and extend their dynamic business networks with their customers, partners and suppliers so they can increase revenues, reduce costs and protect their brand.

The IBM business unit's Information Development Team, led by Karen Buchanan, writes, develops and publishes product content for the Sterling Commerce product families that include B2B commerce integration tools, selling and fulfilment enterprise software, managed file transfer products, and as a Service (aaS) applications in a variety of outputs.

New to IBM via an acquisition, the Information Development team recently embarked on a project to convert their legacy unstructured FrameMaker files to IBM DITA, undertaking the conversion of approximately 150,000 pages of content. Prior to the IBM acquisition, this Information Development team was built through a 'series of acquisitions' and was challenged with standardizing documentation templates and deliverables for reuse and bundling of separate products. This case study presentation will outline some of the challenges faced during the conversion to DITA, review the lessons learnt, and demonstrate how the successful deployment of automated tools and processes enabled them to take control of content quality and deliver content more rapidly, while reducing conversion costs.

Avoiding DITA Spaghetti: Keep track of your content
Jang Graat – JANG Communication
The Netherlands

With DITA, creating documentation is becoming a little like programming: instead of writing new content you reuse existing content and instead of hard-coding the links to other topics you use a relationship table. But with all the powerful linking mechanisms of DITA, you may run into problems that many novice software engineers have experienced. Some of the early software codes are called spaghetti, and this did not refer to its tasty character. Using a CMS often solves these problems at the topic and maps level, but does not address the sub-topic level reuse instances in your content. This presentation illustrates unforeseen problems when creating "DITA spaghetti" and shows some generic methods that may help avoiding cooking up a chaos. These methods are valid with or without using a CMS.

Best Practice For the European Machine Industry: Introducing CMS with PI-Mod for technical documentation
Karsten Schrempp – Dokuwerk KG

Introduction to and reasons for PI-Mod, Comparison with DITA for the Machine Industry, presentation will include sample projects.

Innovative Ways of Taking DITA to the Next Level
Mark Poston – Mekon Ltd.
United Kingdom

Our customers’ demands are growing as fast as technology itself and with them comes further demands on our content and technical information. How can we use the power of a DITA architecture to take our content to the next level?

This presentation looks at how the basic topic architecture of DITA can act as an enabler for many more content solutions across diverse scenarios including web and mobile applications. It will show a variety of examples including collaborative review systems, conference web sites and government reporting that can facilitate user and crowd-generated content.

This presentation will be suitable for anyone who is looking for new ways to publish their DITA content.

Creating Training Blueprints for Complex Learning in DITA
Thomas Zschocke – World Agroforestry Centre

More than ever before individuals need flexible problem-solving and reasoning skills to deal with new and unfamiliar problem situations in their work setting. Learners acquire these complex skills by learning to perform authentic tasks. This learning process is supported by sets of learning tasks, supportive information, procedural information, and part-task information. These inter-related elements are at the core of the well-established four-component instructional design (4C/ID) model by Jeroen van Merriënboer. They serve as training blueprints for complex learning. DITA has a natural fit to express these components in corresponding learning topics and maps. This presentation walks you through the instructional design process on creating and organizing these blueprints in DITA.

DITA Based Technical Writing and Translation: Evil combination or match made in heaven?
Eef Blommaart – Yamagata Europe

Luc Mastelinck – Scripto

More and more companies are facing 3 major business challenges, called "the 3 V's":

  • Volume
  • Velocity
  • Variability

Companies need to grow in order to survive and to be successful, meaning that they have to invent ways to attract new customers. They develop new products and services for new markets, which results in more need for documentation and an increase in translation costs.

Putting more technical writers and translators on the payroll is often put forward as a solution, but in general merely increases cost, adds to the chaos and even further slows down the production process. Exactly those aspects one wants to resolve.

Discover in this presentation how the joined forces of two, initially competitive, companies result in excellent documentation and at the same time help their customers save money by introducing DITA-structure and methodology and by streamlining the translation and publication process.

DITA Macroscopes—Using Information Visualization to Get a Better Understanding of Your Content
Frank Shipley – Componize Software

Modern information architectures are becoming more complex and content volumes are ever increasing. With many thousands of topics to manage in many different contexts, you may not know what content you have or where it is being used, not to mention in what version, what format or what language. If you don't get a grip of this increasingly complex system, your content may get out of hand, costing you time and money in duplicated, out of date or inconsistent content.

To help us understand increasingly complex systems, techniques such as information visualization have emerged where complex data is presented in a visual format so that the mind can absorb the information more easily, helping us to synthesize the data, view relationships and detect patterns and trends. A visualization tool is often called a 'macroscope'. As opposed to a microscope, that makes it possible for the human eye to 'zoom in' and see elements in great detail, a macroscope makes it possible to 'zoom out' and get a vision of the whole, making complex systems more understandable.

During the presentation, we will explore information visualization and see how it can help us understand our own complex DITA documentation systems. With a better understanding of our content, we will be able to improve efficiency, make better decisions and improve the overall quality and consistency of our content.

DITA Metrics: Tune your DITA usage
George Bina – Syncro Soft/oXygen XML Editor

You work with DITA, you develop your content into topics, organize them into maps, publish them to different formats. Can you answer a few questions? For example:

  • How many topics do you have?
  • What topic types do you use?
  • What elements do you use?
  • What is the minimum, maximum and the average number of words in a topic?
  • Do you reuse content?
  • What percentage represents the reused content?
  • What about conditional content?


The presentation will focus on obtaining interesting information from DITA Maps and presenting that in a report so you can easily respond to questions like the ones above.

Don't Drive in the Dark: Metrics and information design
Nicholas Hill – Nokia

One of the key challenges in the technical communications industry today is how to ensure that we create exactly the content that our customers require in a rapidly changing environment. Based on practices developed in Qt, this presentation examines how customer usage metrics can be used in content design for new or updated products. The key is to implement feedback loops based on the flood of information that can be harvested from delivery channels, and to make sure that this information influences the development of the final information product. This presentation is based on actual use cases, and is meant to provoke a discussion about practical measures we can take to improve the planning and tracking of topics, including creating business cases for content development and improvement. And of course, metrics are a useful way to connect the relevance of your documentation back to the business goals of your company.

Drug-Labeling Documents with DITA
Christian Kravogel – SeicoDyne GmbH

In March 2011, the European Medicines Agency announced the cancellation of the PIM-XML initative for product labeling in Life Science. Even when PIM is no longer alive, the business case is still alive and new abbreviations like IDMP and EVMPD are now discussed, but do not answer all questions. The visitor of this session will learn how the DITA standard can already cover—out-of-the-box—most of the requirements of the PIM-XML standard. How the different reuse methodologies of DITA can save a lot of time and money in the creation and maintenance of drug-labeling documents.

Embedded User Assistance Using DITA Content
Marc Speyer – Sperotech
The Netherlands

In traditional online help a window is often overlaid on top of the application's user interface. This out-of-band behavior causes users to lose track of their tasks and creates difficulties for them pinpointing functions within the application.

Embedded user assistance takes different approach. Using tools such as "what's this?", "show me how", wizards, troubleshooters, 2D/3D animations and commands, users can consult help and interact with the application at the same time. Help is live, dynamic, interactive, right-on-spot (in-band), and aware of the application state, user privileges and role. Embedded user assistance makes it feasible to guide untrained users through the operation of a device or an application without formal training or having them consult the documentation.

With the advent of new presentation frameworks, today, it is much easier to create these new rich user assistance experiences where the content team stays in control of the process. In this talk we show how DITA can be used to power embedded user assistance systems. Insights will be given of impact on traditional workflows between content development, interaction design and software development teams. A sample case study using Microsoft Silverlight will be presented.

The Expert, the Persona and I Create the Perfect Unit
Kristina Brinck – ITT Fluid & Motion Control

The Global Enterprise Content Management (GECM) system works to mainstream and reuse technical information across Value Centres and companies within ITT. This system uses a common technical platform, including DITA, but also uses a common documentation process with roles and responsibilities, job descriptions, authoring guidelines and other steering documents.

The task analysis is one important part of the ITT GECM documentation process to ensure that all approved content is relevant, complete, consistent, clear, and possible to reuse.

In this session Kristina describes the following:

  • How the task analysis is performed, and how Personas add value to the task analysis
  • How the Personas enable a common understanding of goals of the documentation
  • How the task analysis results in the Annotated Topic List
  • How the Annotated Topic List works as a working plan for the writers

How Do You Design for Findability? Using SeSAM to make DITA content findable
Jonatan Lundin – Phd Student MDH

Today, when users get stuck using a product, they actively search for answers in manuals. Nobody is reading the manual methodically. And, time to spend on searching is limited or even decreasing and the amount of information to search in is constantly increasing. Thus, users are getting more and more impatient. To stay in business you need to provide your users with the information they need, when they need it. Or they will move to competitor products. Your (DITA) content becomes a strategic asset. Delivering large book centric manuals where information is organized around the parts your product is built up from, is not satisfying the searching user.

Instead, you need to design for findability. It all comes down to understanding what type of information your users need and are searching for. But, you need to take a stand and declare what type of answers you provide. Documentation can never answer every possible user question. You need an information modeling strategy, built on the notion of the searching user, to support you when planning and designing end user deliverables. What type of information do end users need? How shall information be organized and classified for findability?

SeSAM is an information modeling strategy (or design methodology) built on the notion of the searching user. DITA as such is not a design methodology and SeSAM will complement your DITA strategy to allow you to design for findability. This presentation will cover the basics of SeSAM and how to build for example faceted search environments.

How to Move into XML/DITA/Topic Based Authoring from a Book Paradigm
Keld Jellesen – advice2u

Dorthe Iwan Sonne – Siemens Wind Power A/S

How to move an organisation in strong growth from an unstructured book paradigm into a topic based paradigm, where we at the same time for the organization apply the 'unknown' territory DITA on top of another unknown territory the XML technology within a CMS environment. Handling these challenges with care and preciseness open up a new world for content distribution and reuse.

Iconmania: Don't ruin the benefits of your DITA implementation!
Marie-Louise Flacke – CI3M

Making content more valuable to the customers and still reducing costs. Authors are keen on adding icons to their documentations. Are we sure icons and pictograms help users quickly grasp the procedure? Is migrating icons in a DITA project worth the pain? DITA developers have been struggling with inserting icons in steps and defining the icons size for various outputs.

Project managers agree to spend developers' time font fondling and coding icons. What for?

Why are icons so important? It is generally admitted that a picture is worth 1000 words and that pictures are internationally accepted. Further, pictures should help reduce translation costs.

Universally understandable? Research on icons understanding ("Comprehension and Memory", David Leonard, Hajime Otani) shows that "target audience does not always acquire the message intended".

These efforts should not be ruined by spending developer's time and money coding icons.

Implementing DITA Solutions using Content Scenarios
Joe Gollner – Gnostyx Research

Organizations looking to optimize their documentation processes have a lot of choices available to them. With the ongoing evolution of both DITA and the marketplace of DITA-based products this range of choices promises only to get bigger. So what is a project team to do? What is the best way to focus the stakeholder attention on the things that will matter the most for your organization? How can the cost and risk of any chosen path be kept under control? This presentation approaches these questions by introducing a solution pattern called "content scenarios". It is really a re-introduction as in many ways this solution pattern is based on a reasonably long history of precedents. Content scenarios essentially provide a framework for establishing exemplary content and processing steps that can be used to support the full lifecycle of projects and the solutions they produce. Early in a project, the role of content scenarios is exploratory in that they help the team to get close to the content they are analyzing and to illustrate, for the stakeholder community, the new ways of working that are becoming possible. As the project ascends the investment curve, content scenarios evolve so as to become the backbone of the testing process. Then as the project nears completion, these same content scenarios continue to evolve so as to become key parts of the user documentation and training materials. Finally, as the resulting solution enters into operation and begins to undergo successive changes, the content scenarios evolve in conjunction with the solution and come to provide a store of reference resources for new developers and new technology partners to consult and to leverage as regression tests. This presentation introduces content scenarios and, through a number of case studies, illustrates the rationale for their use in DITA projects both large and small. This presentation will also touch upon how DITA can be effectively leveraged as a mechanism for creating, managing and deploying content scenarios. Through close observation, the presentation will suggest ways in which the DITA standard itself might benefit from the application of this methodology.

Implementing Structured Writing: How hard can it be?
Henrik Evanth – Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB

So, you spent a considerate amount of time and money to select a Content Management System and you invested in learning how DITA works. Now it is time to start using your new tools and newly acquired knowledge. This should be fairly easy, shouldn't it? Well, the implementation of topic-based writing seems to be a straight forward task, in theory. But what happens when you try to implement topic-based writing not only within your own organization but also across organizations? Is it possible to plan which topics should be updated when the software continuously changes? And who should be responsible for topics to be accurately updated?

In this presentation you will learn how Sony Ericsson is addressing the questions above as well as a number of other interesting topics like:

  • How large is a topic?
  • How difficult can version handling be?
  • Can conditions be used in a topic to increase reuse and if so how complicated can they be?
  • And in the end was it worth it? What type of metrics do we use to measure the success?

Integrating Social Media into New DITA Workflows
Don Day – Learning by Wrote

DITA is poised to become the standard format for many structured content uses beyond traditional Information Development. Social media tools can be pressed into the roles of content capture, review, and consensus-based approval for these emerging DITA-based workflows. This presentation will outline these tools and provide best practices for using them with DITA content in the spirit of today's drag-and-drop, Web 2.0 information culture.

For example, recent disasters have brought the term "response playbook" to attention again. There is no standard template or format for such playbooks, so we'll look at how DITA fits into that particular publishing requirement. Social media is one of the more popular means for information to be gathered and exchanged in these situations. So we'll also show how these same tools can augment the traditional tasks of reviewing and approving the data even as it is reposted, retweeted, and otherwise reused almost immediately. As the mantra goes, "DITA is all about reuse."

Introduction of DITA in SAP Documentation
Bernd Lauer – SAP-AG

This presentation gives you an overview of the DITA activities in the documentation area of SAP. SAP has decided to promote DITA as the primary documentation standard and aims at migrating and consolidating large parts of its documentation under DITA. Currently only SAP Business Objects uses DITA as documentation standard.

The presentation will give insights in the results of the DITA evaluation project which has investigated DITA in the area of documentation for complex software products. In addition, it will show how SAP will manage the migration of existing content and the co-existence of DITA content and non-DITA content during the transition phase. Finally, it will give an outlook on the implementation project and its timeline.

Is it Possible to Reuse Text From the Software User Interface in The Manual, Using DITA?
Anette Modée – ITT Fluid Technology

In addition to reducing translation costs and shortening the lead time to translate software text strings, in our project we also wanted to implement a more automated process for updating the manual when the software product developer changed the user interface text strings.

Key References and Content References: A world of reuse
Sophie McMonagle – IBM Corporation
United Kingdom

The IBM CICS product documentation moved from SGML to DITA in 2006, and has adopted new DITA specializations over time including content references, conditional tagging and more recently message specializations and key references. The CICS information set contains around 35,000 DITA topics.

This presentation will explain the CICS journey with DITA, and highlight the advantages we have seen through implementing key references, which provide a valuable layer of abstraction when coding links.

Our customers value PDF output highly, and providing key references in our content has meant that we can provide links that are as valuable in PDF content, as they are in HTML content.

Also, I will explain our use of content references and how they have allowed us to reuse quickly and efficiently between topics, and how content references have allowed us to speedily move to a new release.

The Modular Multi-Modal Content Production Project at SAP Education
Thilo Buchholz & Teresa Pask – SAP-AG

This presentation updates you on the progress of the DITA Learning and Training implementation project currently running at SAP. Since the last DITA Europe conference the three-year project has delivered an authoring and publishing platform that is being used by 70 users representing different roles and responsibilities in the educational product development process. The first increment of the implementation project went live in June 2011.

The presenters will demonstrate the authoring and single source multiple output publishing process. They will also discuss the business impact of the new approach, and share their experiences during the initial implementation and how they applied their lessons learnt to shape the ongoing phases of the project.

Strategies to Implement an Enterprise Social Platform with DITA Content
Kristof Van Tomme – Pronovix

Many enterprises have been trying to adopt the communication innovations from the consumer space. The main aim of these efforts is to tap into businesses established communities as sources of otherwise unavailable content (more and better documentation, unintended use cases, feature requests, bug reports, etc.).

In the web-industry these tools are known as enterprise social software, available on twitter under the #socbiz hashtag. Tools that fall under this flag will implement some or all of the following interaction tools: forums, groups, comments, blogging, wiki, microblogging/status updates.

In this talk you will hear about the different strategies you can follow to use your DITA content in these platforms, the advantages and disadvantages of the different tools, and how you can make them attractive and successful. You'll learn about gamification -Drupal Commons, an open source distribution for social business communities.

Topic Based Tech Author Website
Constant Gordon & John Walker – NXP Semiconductors
The Netherlands

We run an internal website for technical authors and content owners within NXP Semiconductors. The website provides information on publication processes, procedures and standards. The previous version of the website contained a lot of pages which consistently caused questions. The website was not used to its full potential as, although the processes were clearly described, the procedures could not be found.

Learning about DITA we matched pages against the possible topics in DITA and learned that pages causing questions always were at least 2 topic types, concept and task and or reference. Following DITA boot camp we learned that information should start with a task at hand. The process information is relevant, but only if the reader wants to know more.

We rearranged the website to be much more task and role based with the DITA concept in mind, never to mix topic types.

We received a lot of positive feedback: information is easier to find and more clear to understand.

DITA is often seen as a technology thing, leaving the human aspect aside. In this presentation, Constant and John emphasize the benefits of a DITA approach even without using DITA technology. It is the content and the content structuring that lead to great results, based on the needs of the readers. This presentation explains more about our DITA based approach to engage our audience.

Understand Why in a World of Multi Source Language Authoring CMS and TMS Belong Together
Claudia Blaschke – Schema GmbH

While authoring and translation mean different requirements for organisations and their processes, they are inextricably joined to each other when it comes to workflow and contributors.

Computer aided translation management offers huge savings on various levels such as dead-line monitoring, automatic selection of data for translation, etc. whereas content management systems achieve savings by recycling content and identifying newly to be translated text.

In the near future these two processes will be fully integrated and seamlessly automated.

Reuse, modularisation, variants control—reasons why we see documents being more fragmented than ever before. At the same time globalisation has lead not only to a tremendous increase in translations, but also to multi source language authoring. Authors with different mother tongues work at the same time on the same fragmented document because they are all part of a multi-national cross-site team.

Therefore when evaluating such technologies, the capability to support parallel authoring in different source languages becomes more and more critical. Content creation and content translation are no longer separated processes, but happen in one single multilingual content creation process, hence their user interfaces will evolve into one.

Only a few of today's systems fulfill these requirements perfectly.

This presentation will discuss the requirements on the process and on the technology side.

Up, Close and Personal with Your Customers: The next stages of DITA and product content maturity
Tom Smith – SDL
United Kingdom
Chris Hadley – Micro Focus
United Kingdom

How do we get closer to the customer? How can we better understand how they use and interact with our product content? What constitutes customer experience? Can DITA help with that? Chris and Tom will be discussing how an infrastructure of DITA paves the way for the next steps in engaging and interacting with our customers to improve their experiences with our content. They will look at the trends driving the focus on customer experience as well the practical steps towards better customer experience and engagement in a DITA environment.

Using Comics to Present DITA Concepts
Erika Webb – Oracle Corporation
Ultan O'Broin – Oracle Corporation

This presentation is about proving the effectiveness of comics in communicating DITA concepts and usage. The Oracle Applications User Experience team's research into the preferred medium for telling product users about new features revealed that comics were much more effective and engaging than traditional formats such as PowerPoint slides. The Oracle team's research began with the development of a selection of comics about DITA concepts and content development. The effectiveness of these comics in communicating DITA messages was measured against other instructional formats, and the results were used to inform Oracle's training strategy.

Test participants were information professionals with DITA, DocBook, and nonstructured authoring backgrounds. Some of these participants had experienced traditional forms of education about DITA and others were new to the area.

This presentation outlines the Oracle team's research methodology, presents the results of the comics test, and recommends how and when comics are best used to educate information professionals about DITA concepts and usage.

Using XLIFF to Optimize Your Translation Process
Frank Miller – Comtech Services, Inc.

Translation savings is often considered the “low-hanging fruit” of a DITA implementation, the quickest path to significant return on investment. Why, then, are so many organizations surprised when their first and even subsequent rounds of DITA translations carry a hefty price tag rivaling their pre-XML translations?

The key lies in the process. A DITA translation, with its hundreds and even thousands of files, requires a deliberate process for managing files and effectively leveraging the organizations’ previous translations and translation memories. Without a sound process, the pre-XML desktop publishing costs shift in the new environment to the administration of source files and translation memory files, and require re-translation of fuzzy matches.

Documentation groups rigidly and efficiently manage their source DITA content, yet when it comes time to translate, the same groups quickly and willingly turn over their content to outside parties for management and quality assurance. Learn about the key areas of the translation process where groups can take control of their own translations, ensuring maximum leverage of TM, minimum need for outside administration, and higher-quality translations.

Frank Miller of Comtech Services discusses a more effective process for managing the DITA translation process, showing how and where you can tighten your process to ensure better matches and higher quality translations before delivering a translation package to a translator.

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