Topic-Oriented Information Development and Its Role in Globalization

A Gilbane Report white paper, written by Senior Editor Bill Trippe.

Executive Summary

Globalization is a critical issue for any company interested in expanding its markets. For the company that markets sophisticated products, globalization is both more difficult and more critical because of the rich content that is needed to support these products.

Product document localization may well be the most difficult aspect of globalization. Documents often are long, with a mixture of text, tables, charts, and graphics. Moreover, the documentation must be produced in different forms—print, online Help sets, HTML. Translating such documents into multiple languages can be challenge.

Single-source publishing has matured as a method for producing complex documents in many formats. XML in particular has become the preferred format for single-sourcing, enabling companies to both repurpose their content into different formats and reuse content modules in different content types. Thus, a procedure that appears in one document can be stored once, edited once, reused in many different documents and repurposed into many different formats.

For all of its upside, XML-based single-source publishing has proven to be expensive and complicated to implement. XML-based single sourcing requires significant tool development, data conversion, and system integration prior to realizing the benefits of repurposing and reuse. To mitigate this, some vertical industries have developed their own XML tag sets. While successful on their own, these vertical industry efforts have not been extensible to other industries.

A new XML-based approach to information development is the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). DITA is a topic-centric architecture that provides a core Document Type Definition (DTD) and schema for developing documentation typical of many kinds of products. Conceived over several years at IBM, the extensible DITA architecture is now being managed by a technical committee at OASIS.

We looked at one organization, software developer Information Builders, Inc. (IBI), and their implementation of DITA for managing a large set of documentation that is translated into many languages. IBI made a strategic decision to adopt DITA, has implemented it, and is already realizing benefits from the decision.

This paper is sponsored by Idiom Technologies, Inc. Idiom provided the solution for IBI: WorldServer Global Electronic Publishing along with the recently introduced DITA option, WorldServer OpenTopic.1. We think the new Idiom solution is significant for combining the traditional functions of an XML Content Management System (CMS), a Globalization Management System (GMS), and a commercial DITA solution. In doing so, Idiom seems to be taking advantage of an intriguing nexus where single-source publishing, XML encoding, and globalization meet.

Idiom_DITA_Whitepaper_Final.pdf214.28 KB Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
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