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Subject: RE: [dita] Audience of the arch spec

This discussion reflects the lack of intro/overview documentation for end users. That lack is not a fault of the arch spec. Maybe the intro/overview portions of the lang spec should be expanded. It's directed more at DITA users.
I have been reviewing the L&T section. In my comments on the wiki I didn't say a lot about the fact that it is constructed using the resources of the L&T specializations and exemplifying the writing style of its users. Some of this content probably should migrate out of the arch spec into a separate intro/overview doc. However, much of it does  say how the L&T specializations and "the core elements of DITA architecture work together". Someone more concerned with tools implementation than I must review it to verify that it "describe[s] the overall flow, so that tools vendors 1) will understand how people will use DITA, and 2) will be able to properly implement the standard as intended...."

From: Michael Priestley [mailto:mpriestl@ca.ibm.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2009 11:24 AM
To: rockley@rockley.com
Cc: 'DITA TC'; 'Joann Hackos'
Subject: RE: [dita] Audience of the arch spec

I agree with JoAnn's suggestion re the intro/overviews. They can't hurt. As long as the actual audience of the spec is kept in mind. If it comes to a choice between audiences, the geeks win for the technical spec. Just like the users win for any deliverables from the Adoption TC.

Michael Priestley, Senior Technical Staff Member (STSM)
Lead IBM DITA Architect

From: "Ann Rockley" <rockley@rockley.com>
To: Michael Priestley/Toronto/IBM@IBMCA, "'Joann Hackos'" <joann.hackos@comtech-serv.com>
Cc: "'DITA TC'" <dita@lists.oasis-open.org>
Date: 10/01/2009 11:19 AM
Subject: RE: [dita] Audience of the arch spec

I like JoAnn’s suggestion of a readable overview to the functionality followed by the technical details. Unless someone writes a comparable document in “user speak” DITA remains inaccessible. This could be a job of the greater community and certainly offers book opportunities, but a short overview would certainly aid in dissemination of information.

From: Michael Priestley [mailto:mpriestl@ca.ibm.com]
Thursday, October 01, 2009 11:12 AM
Joann Hackos
Re: [dita] Audience of the arch spec


We already have a crisp definition of the audience:


There are always going to be places where the spec needs to be geeky. One of the comments logged against DITA 1.0 as I recall was that the description of how conref worked was horribly complicated, and would scare users off, and that actually conref was really simple to use. (Which hopefully it is, precisely because all that complexity is implemented by the geeks who have to read that section).

If the learning and training spec is directed at users, rather than implementers, that may actually be a problem for it. Docs directed at users have different concerns from docs directed at implementers (you can afford to be blurry about the line between can/should for users - not so for implementers). I say this from my own experience, adapting the DITA users guide I wrote for internal IBM users into the first draft of the DITA spec aimed at external implementers.

If you read the sections on conref, specialization, etc. from the perspective of a user, they will be horribly unusable. But if we modified those sections to make them end-user friendly, we would render them horribly unusable for their actual intended audience: the programmers who will implement the behavior for those end-users.

Michael Priestley, Senior Technical Staff Member (STSM)
Lead IBM DITA Architect


From: Joann Hackos <joann.hackos@comtech-serv.com>
To: DITA TC <dita@lists.oasis-open.org>
Date: 10/01/2009 11:00 AM
Subject: [dita] Audience of the arch spec


Hi All,
I continue to be concerned about our definition of the audience of the arch spec. We seem to have two camps: the XML geeks and the user community advocates. Certainly, the Adoption TC needs to direct explanations to the user community, but does the arch spec need to be so completely obtuse?

In fact, it is quite schizophrenic. Read the Learning and Training arch spec. It’s actually in plain language and speaks to the user community. Compare that with some of the other sections, which should communicate to a broad audience. Each section of the arch spec should have a user-friendly introductory explanation of the feature (at least).

It seems that we are getting to sound more and more like software developers who insist that the users know what wonderful, magical work they did in creating the software. Makes the documentation unusable.

Just ranting, of course.

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