Re: DITA useful for translation?

Subject: Re: DITA useful for translation?
From: Mark Giffin <mgiffin -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: Mike Hamilton <mhamilton -at- madcapsoftware -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2011 09:39:23 -0700

Hi Mike,

I appreciate that Flare works to stay with standards. A year or two ago I tried to get some Flare topics to validate in an XML editor (Oxygen). I found it could not be done because the schema that Flare was using to add elements to the XHTML was not available. A namespace in Flare files mentions MadCap.xsd. The MadCap.xsd that I found under the Flare installation directory was just a shell with almost nothing in it. I asked on a Flare forum how to validate Flare topics and got no response. I asked Flare customer support and I don't recall getting a usable answer. I gave up after a while.

The reason I wanted to do this is that one of my clients uses Flare, and engineers who do not have Flare could go in and edit the Flare topics with any validating XML editor and be sure that they were not breaking the structure. You can of course author a Flare topic in any text editor, and as long as you don't violate XML rules, and leave alone the Flare elements, it works okay. But I wanted to validate it against its schemas. I don't plan to try to hand-code Flare snippets or anything like that.

I just looked again at my new Flare version 7 install directory and it looks like MadCap.xsd has been fleshed out, although it still looks like a shell with many elements being defined with no rules at all. But it seems like it should work anyway. So now there is the problem of validating the Flare document against two separate W3C Schemas (XHTML and MadCap.xsd). Do I need to use something like NVDL to validate it?

Mark Giffin

On 4/12/2011 4:27 PM, Mike Hamilton wrote:

*** Vendor Response ***
Hi Leonard,

There is a lot of myth/folklore that has been spread around about the XML underpinnings in Flare. I just don't think that a lot of people understand what it is that we are doing, or why.

The MadCap Flare source files are absolutely well-formed and valid XML, but they are validated against two XML SCHEMA not one. In this hybrid approach all visible content (headings, paragraphs, lists, tables, etc.) validate against the W3C SCHEMA for XHTML. Because of this most people jump to the incorrect conclusion that Flare is simply an XHTML editor. This is grossly incorrect as if they looked a little more closely they would realize that the very second line of the XML document calls out a secondary MadCap SCHEMA via an XML namespace declaration. Why the second SCHEMA? XHTML doesn't have any concept of conditional markers, variables, reusable content snippets, etc. so we augment the XHTML SCHEMA with the MadCap SCHEMA to add that functionality.

Many have asked why we did it this way instead of simply writing our own proprietary SCHEMA for everything. It would have been much easier for us to do just that, but then we would be locking up customers content in a proprietary fashion like a lot of other tools out there. Our goal was to provide maximum single-source capabilities, but in a method that never locks up the customer content in a proprietary fashion. If people want to kick our products to the curb next year, then any tool that can read XHTML can reuse the content they worked so hard to develop.

As to having acces to the XML in addition to our visual editor that was just granted a patent for how we make document structure available via our visual structure bars, Flare also has a great raw XML editor with line wrapping, line numbering, and element color coding.

I hope that this helps,
Mike Hamilton
MadCap Software


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