Daylights: Day 2 of DITA 2006

Day Lights

I'm on an Internet--oh oh--Radio:
Today started out differently for some of us. Due to some scheduling issues, I ended up being the first guest on the "Live from DITA 2006" radio show with Scott Draughon.  A picture below shows Dave Schell on his stint, with Scott Abel in the foreground directing the remote studio activities here.  What a trip!  I think we did a good job, and Abel says that the connections were filled right from the start. If you were unable to tune in live, remember that these shows are recorded and you can listen to them later.

Norm Walsh on DITA and DocBook:

Norm had the lunchtime all-hands presentation on the much anticipated topic of DITA and DocBook.  He noted DocBook's long success for many kinds of information, and the value of DITA focusing the writer on reuse as a goal.  Then he presented some thoughts on technical comparisons, and some concerns for the DITA TC to consider.  He noted that cooperation between the two architectures is worth the effort--the how still to be determined. Photo below.

Lessons learned:
A theme has emerged upon me during the course of talking with some of the conference attendees.  The various tools being demonstrated this year are very good at supporting larger DITA projects, but lack a price point that would make sense for most small-staffed users.  In discussion, I think we've come up with a need for scenarios that have example files and cookbook-like instructions to help new users fully grasp whatever teaching concept is in the scenario.  Secondly, it is not reasonable for most single users/evaluators to do their own integration of tools and workflow management around the DITA Open Toolkit, so there is a clear requirement for some sort of free framework environment that a user can download and use to manage a basic documentation system.


My "Work smarter, not harder" designation for the conference goes to the Framemaker Adapter for the DITA Open Toolkit, featured in a presentation by Mark Poston (Mekon) and Jerry Silver (XMetaL).  This tool makes best use of the DITA OT processing architecture to process a DITA map into a Framemaker stream that can be printed directly through the Framemaker print engine... pretty darn slick, if you are looking for the best way to make use of existing Framemaker assets that you might already have.  (In my estimation, the "work harder" approach is to try to author and then print DITA content directly from the authoring interface, as this approach bypasses the well-tuned map processing benefits of the DITA Open Toolkit and becomes an expensive maintenance albatross in the experience of many users.)  Mark Poston, Paul Prescod, Jerry Silver, and Deborah Pickett have done a fine example of coding to the new plugin interface that started in the DITA Open Toolkit's 1.2 version.  A photo below...
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