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

I can't attend Adoption Committee meetings until they are back in the 11-12 AM ET slot -- and then I'll still will have some conflicts -- but I am interested in this. I'd worked a lot with Ant scripts before I ever used the DITA OT, but this summer I looked at the sample scripts that come with the OT and thought that it'd be difficult for someone to learn from them.

Ant is lovely and simple and straight-forward; a well-conceived and written tutorial might go a long way to help folks new to the DITA OT.

Best regards,


Kristen James Eberlein
Advisory Information Developer, IBM Internet Security Systems
Secretary, OASIS DITA Technical Committee
Home office in Durham, NC, USA
Telephone +1 919 682-2290 (UTC/GMT -5 hours)
Inactive hide details for mathew varghese <mathew.techwriter@gmail.com>mathew varghese <mathew.techwriter@gmail.com>

          mathew varghese <mathew.techwriter@gmail.com>

          03/25/2009 08:39 AM


Sowmya Kannan <Sowmya.Kannan@sun.com>


Don Day/Austin/IBM@IBMUS, Briana Wherry <briana.wherry@alfresco.com>, dita-adoption@lists.oasis-open.org


Re: [dita-adoption] Interesting email chain on the STC single Source SIG

Good points here. I'm currently responsible for the DITA OT docs and
have been toying with the idea of writing an eval guide. As many of
you have mentioned, DITA OT not very easy to adopt. One of the biggest
obstacles that one faces is the prospect of writing ANT scripts to
create the output. Let's touch upon DITA OT during the meeting today.

On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 11:44 PM, Sowmya Kannan <Sowmya.Kannan@sun.com> wrote:
> Thanks Don. This makes good fodder for the DITA Adoption TC.
> Sowmya
> 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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