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Your criticisms and comments will be very valuable to us during the beta
On 3/16/07, Chris Vickery <cvickery -at- arenasolutions -dot- com> wrote:
> Hi Bob
> I saw your info about the ditausers group on the Tech-Wrl list, and
> wanted to join, but when I went to do just that, I was asked for my
> credit card info, despite the "free in beta" offer. Can I join without
> giving my credit card info?
> Thanks and best regards
> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+cvickery=arenasolutions -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+cvickery=arenasolutions -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com]
> On Behalf Of Bob Doyle
> Sent: Friday, March 16, 2007 1:34 PM
> To: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
> Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: Re: Giving up on XML
> Hi Eric and all,
> > You can?t allow the common reference to be a misrepresentation.
> There?s a
> > basic minimum that needs to be learned. The relationship between XML,
> > DTDs, implementations, and Tools would, IMO, be that bare minimum.
> > Because only once that is understood can it be determined if the
> > or misunderstandings lie in configuring/installing a tool,
> > the structure of a specific implementation (HTML, DITA, Docbook), or
> > where.
> Let me provide some background toward that basic minimum of learning.
> XML is a very general markup language. Like SGML (standard generalized
> markup language), it needs a list of the allowable content elements
> which a document is "validated.".
> This is the DTD (document type definition), also called the content
> model -
> a list of allowable elements, what order they can be in, how many are
> allowed of each, etc. It's like the EDD (element definition document) of
> Framemaker, which (unfortunately) also includes the styles information.
> Modern good practice is to separate presentation from content.
> To produce output, XML uses XSLT (a stylesheet and transformation
> language -
> and a procedural programming language written in XML itself).
> So XML has three levels, the allowed structure and content model (DTD,
> content itself (XML), and the presentation styles (XSLT). HTML mixes all
> three together. Framemaker mixes content model and styles.
> A bit of history.
> XML was standardized in 1996 -a kind of cross between HTML and SGML.
> Over 10 years earlier, SGML was the latest version of GML. It's best
> tool is DocBook, which was designed for book format documentation.
> IBM used SGML and DocBook for their documentation. Then they used XML
> Then they realized that technical documentation should no longer be in
> Rather it should be written in reusable chunks.
> The idea of chunking technical documentation goes back to the 1960's and
> Information Mapping (http://www.infomap.com). Information Mapping
> recognized many Information Blocks (chunks), Information Maps
> of blocks), and Information Types.
> Around 2000, IBMs documentation writers limited the Information Types to
> only four. They then created a relatively simple DTD with only a couple
> hundred allowable language elements in these types.
> The basic general type is called a "topic." Writing reusable chunks is
> called topic-based authoring.
> They then "specialized" this generic topic (remember biological
> - taxonomy of species?) into concepts, tasks, and references.
> They called it Darwin (see why?) Information Typing Architecture or
> DITA. It
> consists of topics and maps.
> DITA maps are like magical tables of contents, really just lists of
> links to
> topics (links are called topicref, analogous to hyperlink hrefs).
> You rearrange your topicrefs in a ditamap, build (process) the map, and
> comes a new document (in Help, HTML, PDF or other formats).
> IBM and many other organizations invested many man years and millions of
> dollars creating DTDs to use with XML. But the generality and
> proved way to flexible. It was very difficult to get agreement on DTDs.
> The genius of DITA is that created one basic DTD (actually a small set)
> also a set of XSLTs. They implemented all their tech docs in them.
> Then gave them away as open source to be maintained by OASIS
> for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards).
> They gave them to you and to me, so we would not have to hassle with our
> The XSLTs they collected into a processing engine called the DITA Open
> Toolkit, which builds DITA topics and maps into multi-channel
> print, web, help, etc.
> This too they gave away. It is available for free download from
> Many of the concerns of techwhirlers expressed in this thread about
> Up on XML were experienced by IBM years ago.
> They are way past those concerns and so should we be.
> As to the tools needed to work with DITA, last year I reviewed the top
> XML editors, identifying those that do DITA.
> And I am now developing a web-hosted toolset with the DITA Open Toolkit
> running on a server, and a browser-based editor called DITA Storm (
>http://www.ditastorm.com), so tech writers can get started with DITA and
> topic-based structured writing - without knowing XML, and without
> writing a
> DTD or an XSLT.
> Please help us to build this hosted learning environment and
> Membership is free while it is still in beta.
> Bob Doyle
> Editor In Chief, CMS Review - http://www.cmsreview.com
> Former Technology Advisor, CM Pros -
> Contributing Editor, EContent Magazine -
> President and CEO, skyBuilders - http://www.skybuilders.com
> 77 Huron Avenue
> Cambridge, MA 02138
> Tel: +1 617-876-5676 Skype:bobdoyle
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