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Subject: Interesting email chain on the STC single Source SIG


Saw an interesting email chain this morning on the STC Single Source SIG. An individual is looking for guidance. It sounds like she knows that DITA is the right thing to do, but then it seems doesn’t really understand how to achieve it with tools. I was most interested in one of the replies which did a succinct job of pointing out exactly how convoluted it is to achieve the few simple scenarios she wants (html and pdf) and also potentially quite costly.


I  believe this is one of the most common scenarios we will find for the tech author audience and the answer that Scott gave is good. It does highlight, however, that this is not a simple thing to achieve by any stretch.

 I believe where we can make the biggest impression is to put a more positive swing on this kind of answer, and as we discussed last week, providing some sort of checklist against which to evaluate tools as well as identifying what tools are out there. (preaching to the choir, I know)


I have added the email text for reference. (I am assuming this is OK, as long as we don’t distribute further)


Cheers, Briana



Hi Vickie...


If you're to be authoring content in DITA you'll need an editor that supports DITA. Some popular options are .. Oxygen, FrameMaker (with DITA-FMx), XMetaL, Arbortext, XXE (and others ..

http://www.ditanews.com/tools/desktop_editors/). One of the nice things about DITA is that you don't really need to decide on a single authoring tool .. as long as it round-trips valid DITA it won't matter. You can have people using XMetaL and others using FrameMaker, and all of the files will integrate nicely with your publishing process. As far as I know Author-IT will export DITA, but I wouldn't consider it a DITA authoring tool because it can't open DITA files (without a complicated import process).


You can generate online output through the DITA Open Toolkit, and after a bit of tweaking and effort, you'll probably have something that works reasonably well. If you want something a bit more WYSIWYG for building your HTML-based output, you might consider RoboHelp (which now imports DITA files, but is not a DITA authoring tool) or Quadralay's ePublisher.

Flare is poised to have DITA support, but as far as I know it's not there yet.


For PDF output, you can use the Open Toolkit, but in order to get anything reasonably useful will require hiring an FO developer and probably spending a substantial amount of time and money. FrameMaker gives you nice looking PDF output right out of the box, and modifying a FM template is infinitely easier than FO development. Even if you don't use FM as your DITA authoring tool, you might consider using it for PDF output.






Scott Prentice

Leximation, Inc.




Vickie Hearne wrote:

> Hello all:


> I'm working with a software company to help them migrate their unstructured content from their wiki into a more structured (dita) format. 


> We need electronic output (a help system or another nested, layered structure that can be delivered via the web), and the occasional .pdf manuals for training, etc. While not graphic intensive (screen shots mostly), we would like to include a video with the task component.


> I'm reluctant to take them down the Robo path. Even though I have a lot of experience with the product, potentially, there could be multiple contributors, and, Robo is not the most intuitive for the occasional author.  I also would the the single-source tool to be leveraged for other non-product content, like RFP response, contract prep, sows, etc.


> Any insight suggestions (and warnings!) would be greatly appreciated.


> Thanks,


> -v


> PS:  I've used Author-IT in the past, and am comfortable with the ease of the UI. Anyone working with the 5.0 version?  Thanks again.


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