Simply Lightweight DITA

Simply Lightweight DITA


Posted on August 2018


The East Content and the West Content Can Both Agree on One Common Enterprise Content Management Approach: Lightweight DITA

East Content

Description

East Content is represented by the original architects of DITA, the technical publication departments that have implemented DITA, the consultants who have helped, and the software tools companies that have enabled DITA with brilliant software. To the Easterners, each of the 640 or so DITA elements has an important purpose when implemented correctly. Consultants and technical staff implement DITA with technology, training, and consulting costs that can often be measured in the $ thousands per user.

Successes

Broadly speaking, DITA has provided consumers of technical content with much better technical publications that can be accessed and then acted upon from many devices/media. It has provided an improved organizational brand for technical publications with authoring, publishing, and localization efficiency through content reuse.

Problems/Issues

Because of DITA's breadth of possibilities and its innate complexity, implementation requires specialized authoring, CMS, and publishing technology. It also requires knowledgeable and capable technical staff. As a result, the use of DITA has been confined to well-funded, experienced technical organizations. And furthermore, the required tools and education for staff has been time-consuming and expensive.

Implication for Content Mapper and Simply XML

In many organizations, it has been difficult for the engineers, subject matter experts, marketing departments, and compliance staff consider using DITA primarily because of the required technical knowledge and because traditional XML editors are hard to use. Simply XML's target market includes organizations, and not necessarily technical organizations, that understand the value of XML as an architecture, but with non-technical authors who use MS Word. Our authors will not use complicated DITA authoring and repository tools. So, the use of DITA beyond technical publication departments for what we call "West Content," has been modest.

West Content

West Content is represented by what we sometimes call "ROTO," which stands for the Rest Of The Organization. ROTO authors and information consumers are measured in exponentially larger numbers of people in organization worldwide, across industries and governments. Responsibilities for these authors relate to diverse organizational objectives with technology as an adjunct to the job. There are a billion of these people who author and save most content in MS Word. Many have adopted structured writing methodologies including Information Mapping, DocuTools, and Functional Design. They sometimes use Microsoft SharePoint as a shared repository. Technology and consulting expenditures for these writers is usually measured in the hundreds of dollars per writer.

Successes

Even without DITA, hundreds of millions of information consumers receive the large majority of the information they need to use products, review plans, describe issues, and comply with internal and external regulations.

Problems/Issues

Across large global organizations and customers, content lacks consistency. Ubiquitous access to inconsistent information on many devices causes the organization's brand image to suffer. Authoring reuse is confined to cut and paste. And publishing to multiple devices/media involves maintenance of multiple versions of the same content. ROTO believes that DITA cannot be used because is too technical, too complicated, and way too expensive. Eyes glaze over with aggressive resistance to XML editing tools and the implementation impact of single source publishing, metadata, work flow, and versioning.

Implication for Content Mapper and Simply XML

The use of Content Mapper has generally been seen in content intensive departments that have the need for control, reuse, and single source publishing. We are sometimes involved with technical publications organizations that work in MS Word. For these customers, Simply XML has hidden its narrower implementation the XML/DITA standard and have used training and an MS Word plug-in to create a straight-forward information standard to achieve single source publishing and reuse objectives.

About Lightweight DITA

Lightweight DITA offers a content architecture that could cost-efectively improve enterprise content management. The OASIS DITA Technical Committee wants to facilitate control, reuse, and single source publishing beyond technical organizations. After years of analysis and work, Lightweight DITA offers 40 or so elements that can realistically be used to power enterprise content. Lightweight DITA is compatible with our Simply DITA structure and we now offer Simply Lightweight DITA from Content Mapper, our Word Plug-in. Our solution always produces valid DITA that works either independently or in a more complex implementation where technical authors use the larger DITA tag set.

Conclusion: Lightweight DITA has the potential to unify the enterprise content needs of the East Content and the West Content when supported by relevant, quickly implemented, and cost-effective software, training, and other services.

Lightweight DITA Looks Like a Winner!