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Subject: MINUTES: DITA Help Subcommittee Meeting on 01/24/08

Hi all --

I am still figuring out how to "post" minutes officially at our DHSC 
OASIS web site ... and I will eventually figure it out.

Until then ... here are the "unofficial" meeting minutes.

Thanks to Tony for reviewing them and catching a couple of my gone-awry 

Stan Doherty

           DITA Help Subcommittee Meeting
             January 24, 2008 04:00PM/EST
                   Stan Doherty
Attendees: Antley, Mr. Jeff (IBM), Cunningham, Mr. Daniel (PTC), Day, Don (IBM, DITA Technical Committee), Doherty, Dr Stanley (Sun Microsystems), Fuhrer, Mr. Sebastian (IBM), Goolsby, Mr. Chris (PTC), Kirk, Bill (Astoria Software), Self, Anthony (Hyperwrite Pty. Ltd.), Sloan, Ms. Robin (PTC), Svechota, Ms. Joyce (PTC)

Tony Self, chairperson of the DITA Help Subcomittee, brought the concall meeting to order at 4:05.

1. Roundtable introductions: 
   a. DHSC members mentioned having worked with the 
      following Help environments:
      - MS WinHelp
      - MS HTMLHelp
      - MS Vista Help / AP
      - Sun JavaHelp
      - EclipseHelp
      - Generic HTML help 
   b. DHSC members have also contributed the following 
      - CS Help Plug-in (cshelp1.1) to the DITA Open 
      - WinANT
      - Company-specific internal specializations
      - WinHelp transform for the DITA-OT
      - JavaHelp transform for the DITA-OT
      - XHTML transform for the DITA-OT

2. Resources and infrastructure for the committee: Tony 
   summarized the status of infrastructure that is now 
   in place or in process.
   - OASIS web pages (set up)
   - Concall number (set up)
   - Wiki for the subcommittee (planned)
   - List of URLs/links to relevant resources (planned)
3. Discussion questions about parameters: Tony 
   facilitated a discussion of the following topics. 
   This was an initial "check-in" on whether we are 
   approaching the issues from similar perspectives 
   with similar assumptions. 
   a. Should we be thinking about DITA as a delivery 
      DHSC: Microsoft, for example, delivers Help in 
      compiled AML and relies on the run-time help 
      engine to handle rendering and navigation. 
      In terms of DITA, even XML-aware browsers are 
      not capable currently of rendering DITA source
      into HTML without the assistance of a run-time
      Don: The DITA-OT team has delivered some 
      technology in this area and identified some 
      long-range goals:
      > The EclipseContent plug-in installs DITA source
        collections in an Eclipse environment so they can
        be rendered dynamically by an XSLT into HTML
        for a browser. 
      > One vision of a DITA-aware Help engine might 
        involve it being aware of browser-specific or
        user-specific information (preferences, 
        run-time platform, role) and handle the resolution 
        conditional conrefs. Basically, the help engine 
        would be conditionally filtering, rendering, and 
        personalizing DITA content at run-time. Companies
        could deliver a single set of sources to a customer
        and let the help engine handle the personalization
        and/or customization in the field. 
      > Performance should not be a concern if:
        - Server technology keeps up with network and
          process loads over time 
        - DITA source topics remain relatively small
        - Server-side processing of the dynamic content 
          keeps I/O thrashing to a minimum (optimizing
          local bandwidth).
      - Tony: Tony asked attendees whether anyone had had much 
	exposure to XML interface languages such as XUL or 
        XAML. Didn't seem that anyone had. 
   b. What upper-level features does Help require?
      - search
      - breadcrumbs (at what levels? wrapping?)
      - TOC
      - index 
      DHSC: There didn't seem to be much initial controversy
      about the common top-level features in modern help
      systems. Tony pointed the group to his white paper
      on DITA help features to consider:
      Tony references the features in the HAT (Help Authoring 
      Tool) Matrix set up by Char James-Tanny at 
      AI/Committee: Review the white paper on features 
         and identify gaps.
   c. What lower-level features (eg, popups, expansion 
      links) does Help require?
      - popups
      - expansion links/sections a la JavaScript divisions 
        in HTML or MS flavors of help
      DHSC: The general sentiment here was that users 
      loved these features. They seemed to be good 
      candidates for DITA specializations, addressing
      content and presentation. 
   d. Should we be thinking about both Help as a standalone 
      deliverable and embedded UA?
      DHSC: Initial (but not universal) thoughts of members
      trended toward focusing on standalone help primarily
      and then figuring out how DITA support for embedded 
      UA might work on top of standalone help.
      at least initially. To the extent that there is
      significant variation in the way engineering groups 
      design, encode, and maintain embedded UA in their
      GUIs, it would be prudent to gather/clarify 
      requirements for embedded help before moving directly
      into DITA-based implementations. 
      - Should embedded UA be task-based Help, and standalone
        be concept-based? (Ref: Mike Hughes' blog)
	DHSC: Mike's argument is that improved UI design and
	well-implemented, task-focused embedded UA has 
        diminished (to some extent) the need for the 
	standalone help accompanying GUIs to be primarily
	task-oriented. Standalone help may well trend 
	toward predominantly conceptual or reference 
   e. Are we devising a platform-agnostic (aka 
      cross-platform solution?
      DHSC: Yes.
   f. How might "Active Content" be implemented?
      DHSC: Microsoft's Active Content consists of
      ShowMe links embedded in help topics. When the
      customer clicks one of these links, an interactive
      helper app executes. There are many forms of active
      content in other help implementations, e.g. 
      multimedia demos, tours, interactive graphics, 
      wizards, diagnostic applets, etc.. Calling rich 
      content from DITA might be as straight-forward as
      some processing specializations. Metadata could 
      set that up.
   g. Would DITA Help markup be a subset configuration
      of the current DITA specification (DITA 1.2)
      or some set of specializations to it?
      DHSC: Everyone seemed to agree that reusing topics
      that had already been written/translated for 
      other deliverables is a high priority for
      DITA-based help. The configuration versus
      specialization options will need to be an
      ongoing exploration. 
   h. What is required of context-sensitivity for 
      all Help platforms (and embedded UA requirements)?
      DHSC: Microsoft uses a variety of CS callback 
      tokens: context strings, context numbers, search 
      matches, index strings, or URLs. EclipseHelp uses 
      a unary, unique string. 
      AI/Committee: Validate whether these options 
      comprehensive as a starting place. 
4. Other topics to consider (open mic).
   a. Translation support: Stan suggested that we need
      to have a good story about L10N support at a 
      - best practices
      - resource files

5. WritersUA conference in Portland: Tony polled the committee 
   for those who were planning to attend the conference and 
   would be able to contribute to a discussion there about
   DITA help goals and priorities. Tony is giving a 
   presentation on DITA-based help and can facilitate some
   discussion with conference attendees. Don Day mentioned 
   that believed that John Hunt (IBM) was planning to 
   attend. Tony mentioned that he believed that Bob Doyle
   was also planning to attend. Stan suggested that setting
   up a concall there might draw remote participation 
   as well. 
   - Conference details at: http://www.writersua.com/ohc/
6. DHSC charter review: Tony walked through the DHSC charter 
   to test whether there were any elements there that 
   needed to be challenged or revised initially. The 
   committee was OK with the charter ... no issues.

7. DHSC to DITA TC (Technical Committee) interactions:
   Don reiterated to the DHSC that the DITA TC was there 
   to assist and to support the DHSC. This takes many 
   - The DHSC can ask the TC periodically to review some
     of its work in progress.
   - The DHSC can ask the TC to assist in detailed 
     design work on specific issues.
   - Progress reports or updates from the DHSC to the 
     TC are welcome and encouraged. 
   - Updates to the TC on overall scope, deliverables, 
     and timeframes assist the TC in determining how
     the DHSC deliverables align with release cycles 
     of the DITA specification. 

8. DHSC meeting logistics:
   a. Meeting frequency: every two weeks to start off with
      - The Thursday 04:00PM/EST slot seemed good for 
        folks in general; Tony has a conflict for the
 	next Thursday in the rotation (February 7).
   b. Next meeting: Wednesday, February 6 04:00PM/EST.
   c. Concall line ... OK to use the current line.

Tony thanked everyone for attending the meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 05:00PM/EST.

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