Re: question re XML DITA editors

Subject: Re: question re XML DITA editors
From: kafkascampi <kafkascampi -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: jimmy -at- breck-mckye -dot- com
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 2012 10:13:01 -0800

Alison said "they've asked me to look into Serna"

I've used Serna with Docbook and DITA for ...5 years, I think? I have the
paid version and am not sure of the difference.

Serna is a fine, straightforward tool. It feels engineer-y to me as opposed
to a shiny expensive tool like XMetal--like you have to get under the hood
a little. You can configure the editing environment to be allllmost
WYSIWYG. It enforces whatever DTD you like.

I don't integrate SVN with Serna, but manage check-ins separately.

Element insertion is better than some tools, worse than others, but you can
pop up the Insert menu with a keyboard shortcut. You can also set up
macro-type commands that will plop in a template for you, so you'd get
empty title, metadata, context, steps elements should you want to do that.

Serna can be slow to open a really long file--for example I have a help map
where the map itself has several hundred topicrefs, and the related links
table formats to about 70 pages...that takes 5 minutes or so to open.

The tags view can be a little wonky, I've found. I end up doing some
editing in a plain ol' text editor sometimes, but I think that's jsut a
personal preference--I'd probably do that no matter which XML editor I used.

Chris





On Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 5:37 AM, <jimmy -at- breck-mckye -dot- com> wrote:

> I tried Serna about 18 months ago, and I wasn't keen.
>
> I'm struggling to remember my exact gripes, but I don't think there was
> any one dealbreaker, just lots of niggles. For example:
> - Inserting elements is a bit of a pain (but this is an issue I've faced
> with almost all XML editors)
> - exporting to PDF meant tinkering with several third-party plugins
> - a few little stability issues on by 64 bit machine
>
> I didn't think it was *bad*, just that it still had some rough edges.
>
>
> Other tools that people are happy with and recommend that I take a look
>> at ?
>>
>
> I quite liked working with a French XML editor called JAXE. I was pleased
> with the UI, which made handling and inserting elements a snap and writing
> new schemas very straightforward. JAXE allows you to write special schemas
> that manipulate its interface - eg certain whitespace for certain elements,
> or custom menus for commonly used elements. It's free (and open source),
> too.
>
> It was all for nothing, though, because not long after I left (another
> small startup like yours), I'm told my successor spurned XML as 'too hard
> to understand' and re-wrote everything in Microsoft Word, complete with
> clipart and inline styles. Which brings me onto a serious point - XML
> solutions don't tend to get buy in from non-writer colleagues. That could
> influence your decision.
>
>
> On 10.02.2012 11:07, Alison Wyld wrote:
>
>> Hello,
>>
>> I lurked (and occasionally contributed) on this list in the 90s and early
>> 00s before my career moved in a different direction...
>>
>> Now I find myself for the first time in several years working with a small
>> software startup that is scratching its head and wondering how they ought
>> to be doing documentation.
>>
>> One option we're looking into is XML (DITA flavor) and one thing we're
>> researching is tool choice. I'm seeing a lot of buzz around Oxygene, and
>> it seems to provide a lot of what they need for a reasonable cost.
>> (wysiwig
>> type editing, integration into a development lifecycle that involves
>> coding
>> in Eclipse and Archive/Versioning in SVN.)
>>
>> But like all startups, they'd really like tools to be free, so they've
>> asked me to look into Serna. I've trawled the archives, but don't see
>> anything terribly recent.
>>
>> So does anyone out there have some current experience with the free
>> version
>> of Serna ? How does it stand up to the paying verison of Serna and/or to
>> Oxygene ? Hidden costs and gotchas ?
>>
>> Other tools that people are happy with and recommend that I take a look
>> at ?
>>
>> Many thanks for any pointers
>>
>> Alison Wyld
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References:
question re XML DITA editors: From: Alison Wyld
Re: question re XML DITA editors: From: jimmy

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