Anne Bovard, Comtech Services, Inc.

I’ve just returned from CIDM’s 2009 CMS conference and am pleased to report that the event was a great success. Despite the sluggish economy our numbers were still fairly strong. And we enjoyed a global audience—our participants travelled from 11 countries to join us. Again this year we hosted four tracks: Management, Technical, DITA, and Demo. I had the opportunity to serve as a room monitor for the DITA track this year.

There were several instructional presentations at this year’s conference. We learned to manipulate XSL-FO (Extensible Stylesheet Language Formatting Objects) to effect change in our output. We were introduced to the basics of conditional processing and different indexing strategies in DITA. We also received guidance for using the conref (content reference) mechanism to improve our content and process.

We were treated to a number of case studies too. Groups that have recently completed DITA pilot projects recalled their journeys with humor and advice. They shared their cost savings and best practices. Each group hammered home the importance of preparation and planning.

We also heard several presentations about some new and innovative projects. One group is using DITA with other open source tools to create a web environment for customer feedback. Another group demonstrated a solution for authoring content in Word and transforming that content into DITA.

All in all, the quality of the DITA presentations was excellent. We’re fortunate to attract the interest and time of some many talented and thoughtful people in the community. I’m already looking forward to next year! We’ll be in Santa Clara in 2010, April 19-21. Please stay tuned for more details.

It seems that each year at this conference the gap widens between those who are just beginning their DITA journey and those who are seeking advanced information. CIDM is committed to serving both of these groups. We’re even considering a different tracking system next year. If you have suggestions, comments, or concerns, about how to best serve our audience please share them.