DITA Newsletter 1.5

Features in this issue (see the web version at www.ditanewsletter.com)


DITA User Group Meetings

Central Texas DITA Users Group

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 @ 7:00-9:00 pm CST:.
Eric Sirois of IBM Canada on "Using DITA for Eclipse Infocenters." Eric will give this presentation from Canada via the web. This will be an extremely valuable session for anyone who is considering using DITA to consolidate corporate information on a centralized web site, or for delivering component-based information.

Silicon Valley DITA Interest Group

Wednesday, December 12 at 7:00pm PST:
Year-end wrap-up social at Buca di Beppo restaurant in Campbell

Agenda: 7:00-9:00 - Dinner and DITA. Please RSVP to Scott Prentice by December 11 (or sooner) if you're planning to attend. They need the list of all attendees ahead of time for reservations.

Robert Anderson on Extending the Open Toolkit

We recorded Robert Anderson's remote (from Minneapolis) presentation at the Silicon Valley DITA Interest Group November meeting. We captured it (in Cambridge) with our Elluminate Academic Office. We converted it to a Flash movie using Camtasia Studio 5. It is available here with a table of contents.

Have you given a DITA presentation? Would you like to go through it again? We can record your voice and add the presentation to our stock of tutorials to help others get started with DITA. Contact Bob Doyle.

DITA at the XML 2007 Conference

The IdeaAlliance XML 2007 Conference theme was "XML in Practice". XML 2007 featured a Documents and Publishing Track, with important presentations on DITA as a fine example of XML in practice.

The opening presentation, by Eric Severson of Flatiron Solutions, argued that DITA is taking the world by storm (PPT). Entitled "Practical Lessons for DITA Implementation," Severson had an excellent slide that compared DITA to DocBook, showing how Topics are assembled by Maps and DocBook is a monolithic document.

Eliot Kimber of Really Strategies reported on the conversion of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) rules and regulations to DITA. The Financial Accounting Foundation (mandated by government but supported by industry and sales of regulations to publishers) wanted to produce a new codification of the U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, for which a DITA-based but highly specialized XML application was developed. FASB knew they wanted to go to XML. They considered DocBook and some other mature standards. They considered a custom XML development, which Kimber had done many times in his career and knew would be very costly and time consuming. But they settled on DITA, for cost reasons and because DITA met requirements better than the alternatives.

Kimber did the overall design and the specializations needed. One or two FASB staff worked on it, and a small team at Ovitas provided the dynamic delivery from their business process portal backed by the e:CLS (empolis) CMS. Tibor Tscheke reported on the work at Ovitas (PPT). The authoring tool was PTC Arbortext Editor. This portal will provide updates to publishers in XML. FASB soon will offer a new public-facing web information portal, generated from the original DITA topics, using a Fatwire Content Server and Oracle XDB database.

John Hunt of IBM reported on the work of his OASIS subcommittee on Learning and Training Content Specialization.

Eliot Kimber than led an all-afternoon DITA Quick Start training session. We videotaped a large part of this tutorial and will post it on ditausers.org/tutorials.

Several attendees contributed conference writeups and comments.

DITA Open Toolkit 1.4.1

Robert Anderson announced the release of version 1.4.1 of the DITA Open Toolkit, now available from the DITA-OT project page at SourceForge.

This release consists primarily of small bug fixes and minor enhancements. It also includes several patches submitted by users over the last year, some of which were unintentionally left out of the 1.4 release.

Several posts to the dita-users mailing list at Yahoo indicate people are having some trouble getting the OT 1.4 installed and working properly. We are all looking forward to updated installation documentation and a new edition of Anna van Raaphorst and Dick Johnson's very valuable Open Toolkit User Guide, now expected as early as next week.

<oXygen/> XML Editor now DITA-compliant

Version 9 of the <oXygen/> XML Editor now has comprehensive DITA support.

The main feature of version 9.0 is a CSS-based visual XML editor allowing WYSIWYG-like editing of XML documents. <oXygen/> allows you to work with XML frameworks (DocBook, DITA, TEI, XHTML, etc) easier than ever before. Version 9 adds a new concept called Document Type that allows you to provide ready-to-use support for a framework or an XML language and share it with other users. This version also brings improved error reporting for validation, additional side view helpers, some component updates and a number of other features.

<oXygen/> is a complete cross-platform XML editor providing the tools for XML authoring, XML conversion, XML Schema, DTD, Relax NG and Schematron development, XPath, XSLT, XQuery debugging, SOAP and WSDL testing. It has visual editing support for DocBook, DITA, TEI, and XHTML.

The integration with the XML document repositories is made through the WebDAV, Subversion and S/FTP protocols. We are excited about WebDAV access because DITA Users workspace folders can now be WebDAV enabled via HTTPS. <oXygen/> also can browse, manage and query native XML and relational databases.

The <oXygen/> XML editor is also available as an Eclipse IDE plugin, a unique XML development feature. With Eclipse tools for DITA like the IBM Task Modeler, and Eclipse Help as our tool to create the DITA Infocenter, we are enthusiastic about <oXygen/> and Eclipse.

XMLmind XML Editor now DITA 1.1 compatible

The DITA add-on for XMLmind XML Editor now fully supports the DITA DTD 1.1. It includes its own minimal copy of DITA Open Toolkit version 1.4. It fully supports CALS tables and simpletables. It also supports conrefs.

Pixware, the XMLmind developers, say they are planning more DITA support but that the current level is to encourage those integrating XMLmind into various DITA XML CMS.

DITA for Enterprise Business Documents

On 3 November 2007, the DITA TC resolved to form a DITA for Enterprise Business Documents Subcommittee. The new subcommittee was proposed by Michael Boses of In.vision Research and Ann Rockley of the Rockley Group, who will be subcommittee co-chairs. Initial membership includes Peter Meyer of Elkera, who developed the related Business Narrative Markup Language (BNML).

Their proposal said "In the past year, a growing number of organizations have come to believe that DITA not only provides the best basis from which to start addressing their requirements for structured authoring of narrative business documents, but that characteristics of DITA simplify the usability issues as well. The DITA standard is so compelling that the absence of a sub-committee focus on narrative business documents has not stopped several organizations from embarking on the use of DITA for this purpose.

"Many of us who are currently engaged in DITA-based business document projects feel that this is an ideal time for the DITA technical committee to support the efforts of these business users with standardized approaches and experienced-based guidance. A background document has been uploaded to the OASIS site and may be accessed by interested parties."

New Benefits for DITA Users Members

The DITA Users international membership organization will soon be offering new benefits to its members.

A $100/year membership will include the choice of the leading book on DITA or a desktop DITA Editor to complement the web-based DITA Storm editor.

The book (a $50 value) is JoAnn Hackos' Introduction to DITA - either the original edition by Kylene Bruski and Jennifer Linton or the new Arbortext Edition.

The desktop editor is the $48 Academic Edition of the <oXygen/> XML Editor, now at version 9 with full DITA support.

Desktop editors communicate with web servers via FTP or WebDAV (distributed authoring and versioning). DITA Users can now WebDAV enable individual members' workspace folders.

Most DITA authoring tools offer WebDAV, some as a premium only available in their Enterprise Editions (for example, Syntext Serna and XMLmind).

DITA Users was delighted to learn that SyncRO Soft <oXygen/> supports WebDAV in their $48 Academic Edition. They made an agreement with SyncRO Soft to offer an Academic License to DITA Users for learning DITA online.

Anyone with a WebDAV-enabled DITA authoring tool can use it on their DITA Users document sets. These include two docsets from IBM and the docset from Comtech Services in the Introduction to DITA book. They can also create their own projects.

Practically speaking, anyone already invested in an advanced DITA authoring tool may be beyond the need for the "DITA from A to B" learning offered by DITA Users. But the new access method may make online training valuable for small tech pub groups who can now use their familiar tools (like Arbortext Editor or XMetaL Author) on the DITA Users website, as well as use innovative tools like the web-based DITA Storm, while their teams get started with DITA.

About DITA Newsletter

DITA Newsletter is published by DITA News, one of a network of websites in support of DITA. It is available online at www.ditanewsletter.com.

Each of our websites is optimized for some community-oriented function.

DITA Users - helping members get started with topic-based authoring using a web-based editor (DITA Storm), the Open Toolkit on the server, a personal workspace folder on the web with three starter DITA docsets, and a private member directory to locate other DITA Users.

DITA Infocenter - the DITA architectural and language specifications, and the Open Toolkit User Guide, in an Eclipse Help format.

DITA News - a blog aggregator, a mailing list, and this newsletter on DITA.

DITA Blog - a group blog for DITA information developers (based on WordPress).

DITA Wiki - over 600 pages of resources in a format that encourages comments and discussions (based on MediaWiki).

and a couple of other sites to come soon, including

DITA Tutor - a set of self-paced and instructor-led DITA Tutorials (based on a Moodle LMS)

Please consider joining DITA Users today. Membership is $100USD/year and includes your choice of either: Introduction to DITA by JoAnn Hackos or an Academic License to the <oXygen/> XML Editor, with WebDAV access to your workspace folder on DITA Users.

Your membership fee supports our network of websites, including this newsletter. Discounts on DITA conferences and workshops more than offset your annual membership fee


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