Karsten Schrempp, PANTOPIX Gmbh i.G

After having not attended for five years, I was lured to Prague by the latest developments and reports from DITA. Or was it Prague that lured me to DITA?

The setting at the Marriott Hotel was small, but pleasant. There were two different lecture series, making the decision difficult at times. Only once did I make the wrong decision. There was a small exhibit area with system and consulting providers that allowed me to get to know companies I hadn’t heard of before. The outstanding catering service provided drinks, snacks and meals during the breaks. An international crowd from over 20 countries—and not just countries in Europe.

I also made new and important discoveries for myself: The discussion surrounding “learning content” is also prevalent in the DITA community and thrives at DITA because everything providers need for instruction and training in terms of data models, tools and publication opportunities is provided quickly and easily. In this respect, the providers ranged from the World Agroforestry Center (highly impressive presentation given by Thomas Zschocke) all the way to one of the largest software makers in Europe: For me, Dr. Buchholz/SAP gave the best lecture, which covered on the topic of migration from the SAP standard product (Knowledge Warehouse) to a DITA-based framework for training content and subsequently for software documentation as well. This constituted one clear and unexpected example demonstrating that the DITA concept holds water in large environments too (more than 500 users) if it is implemented with technical savvy.

The rest of the time, dialogue and sharing of experiences beyond the usual horizon took place. One topic in particular, was readily discussed with controversy: How might it be possible to better harmonize the American, primarily DITA-based method of information modeling and system utilization with the European, more semantically-based data model? And to do this without constantly resorting to the constant preconception that one is better-suited for the software industry and the other for mechanical engineering.

Last but not least, I also enjoyed giving my own lecture on the topic of PI-Mod. And although I managed to give the presentation without referring to DITA, it was still accepted and received with interest. Specializing this data model for DITA is currently in progress.

All that was left for me to do in Prague was to take a mesmerizing walk by night past the astronomical clock (which was also mentioned during one lecture), through the tower gate of the Charles Bridge and over the Vltava. The Kafka bookshop and the Old Jewish Cemetery were unfortunately closed for quite some time already at that late hour.

The next destinations for me are DITA North America in La Jolla and DITA Europe next year.

Many thanks to the hosts!

About the Author
Karsten’s experience in SGML/XML-based information systems extends more than 10 years. He has worked as CTO, IT Leader, Information Management Freelancer, Project and Sales Leader, and has founded several organizations.