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Subject: Re: [dita-adoption] Interesting email chain on the STC single SourceSIG

Thanks Don. This makes good fodder for the DITA Adoption TC.

Don Day wrote:
> Thanks for those ideas, Sowmya. When I was the lead for DITA OT, we
> actually did consider a subscription model for extra support. However, the
> necessary administrative overhead made this hard to justify for a project
> that still has a basically minimal support team and volunteers, and no real
> foundation otherwise. Red Hat and Eclipse are organization-level entities
> that have the means to handle new business cases like that more easily.
> Note that the latest release, 1.4.3, now natively supports the so-called
> Idiom transforms using the much improved Apache 0.96 FOP output engine.
> These transforms have a formal customization layer that makes fine tuning
> for different look and feel quite a bit better architected.  The potential
> is there for very high quality output with even the lowest cost PDF option
> (FOP). What is missing are clear How-To guides. I think you have suggested
> a very good set of  investigations that can help new users quickly adapt
> the look and feel for all outputs to their needs.
> Ironically, some of that same info is in the Help Guidelines document that
> has been the subject of some controversy, so this TC will need to scope its
> goals carefully. If you address only the DITA Open Toolkit and its default
> outputs, I think you will be find. And the user community will love you for
> helping them.
> It is important to characterize the default output of the Toolkit
> correctly. It is intentionally unbranded because each user will have their
> own preferred needs. It would be very handy to provide an easy-to-install
> sample customization for a "toy" brand or look-and-feel so that users can
> modify those pieces in place to get their own preferred outputs, in
> addition to the "how to do it from scratch" which IS necessary for those
> who want to understand the process in terms of their own support. And also
> important for consultants for whom the Toolkit is a vital foot in the door
> for new clients, and the customization skills are what folks are willing to
> pay for to get much more than toy-level changes.
> Regards,
> --
> Don Day
> Chair, OASIS DITA Technical Committee
> Architect, Lightweight DITA Publishing Solutions
> Email: dond@us.ibm.com
> 11501 Burnet Rd. MS9033E015, Austin TX 78758
> Phone: +1 512-244-2868 (home office)
> "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
>  Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"
>    --T.S. Eliot
>   From:       Sowmya Kannan <Sowmya.Kannan@Sun.COM>                                                       
>   To:         Briana Wherry <briana.wherry@alfresco.com>                                                  
>   Cc:         dita-adoption@lists.oasis-open.org                                                          
>   Date:       03/24/2009 11:35 AM                                                                         
>   Subject:    Re: [dita-adoption] Interesting email chain on the STC single Source SIG                    
> Doesn't a license of Framemaker cost nearly $1000?
> Perhaps it is a question of setting the right expectation about the
> capabilities of the DITA OT. The DITA OT literature gives the impression
> that multiple output formats can be generated out of the box. There is no
> mention of the level of effort required to generate custom branded HTML
> output or print quality PDF output.
> The first look at the generated PDF output can be be really jarring!
> I feel like we should focus on documenting the following:
> For each output format:
> - what does DITA OT produce out of the box
> - what are the customization options
> - what are the technical details to implement a customization
> - what is the level of effort and cost associated with customization
> - are there commercial DITA OT plugins that can be purchased to accomplish
> customization, instead of hiring a consultant each time
> Perhaps the DITA OT needs a model like Red Hat Linux or MySQL, where the
> open source / free version is always available, but customers have to pay a
> nominal price for extras. For small-mid size companies, that may be a more
> palatable option than paying thousands of dollars for a proprietary
> product  or extensive consulting work.
> My 2 cents.
> Thanks
> Sowmya
> Briana Wherry wrote:
>       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.
>       Cheers,
>       ...scott
>       Scott Prentice
>       Leximation, Inc.
>       www.leximation.com
>       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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