RE: Are You Using Structured Framemaker?

Subject: RE: Are You Using Structured Framemaker?
From: "Joe Malin" <jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com>
To: "Anna Junglas" <ajunglas -at- hotmail -dot- com>, <Gary -dot- Etzel -at- Advantica -dot- biz>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 Dec 2005 15:13:49 -0800

This is a short and necessarily simplified overview:

XML: Plays a part in both DocBook and DITA by a standard language for
describing documentation. This language can be syntax-checked and
verified in much the same way that a computer language can. Tools for
parsing and transforming XML are widely available. In short, it's a good
language for describing data.

DocBook: You define a style guide that specifies what paragraphs,
sections, chapters, parts, and books should look like. Then you define
paragraph, character, and other formats that implement this.
DocBook does the same thing, except that your definitions are made in
XML instead of plain text. DocBook is
a formal, declarative language for specifying what a book looks like.
The advantage is that programs can read your definitions and then
enforce them.

DITA: Uses some of the ideas of DocBook: A formal "language" for
specifying what a book looks like. DITA, though, has various features
that make it easy for you to write once, use many. For example, with
DITA you can define a "library" of information units and then combine
them in various ways to make a book.

The DocBook language tends to mark text according to book organization,
like "section" or "paragraph" or "list". DITA tends to mark text
according to its *purpose*, like "definition" or "concept" or
"instruction". There are arguments for doing it either way.

I'm planning to go DocBook, and then use my learning to go with DITA if
that seems more useful.

Joe Malin
Technical Writer
jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com
The views expressed in this document are those of the sender, and do not
necessarily reflect those of TuVox, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+jmalin=tuvox -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+jmalin=tuvox -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
Of Anna Junglas
Sent: Thursday, December 08, 2005 2:35 PM
To: Gary -dot- Etzel -at- Advantica -dot- biz; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: Are You Using Structured Framemaker?

I'm just starting down the path to understand DITA and FM content reuse.
I'm not very far into my investigation but I am having a difficult time
seeing the advantages of DITA. Perhaps the docs I am using as a mental
example are not the best fit for this type of solution.... I'm using
the example of a suite of 3 docs for a software app - Install, Quick
Ref, Maintenance.
Output would be PDF and HTML Help Pages.
The content would be almost exactly the same for both outputs.
I understand conceptually that I can use variables for publication
version numbers and the product name.
I understand that FM has a text inset feature so I could reuse something
like the Overview content.
But what do I gain by using DITA?


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