Flat files in Flare, vs. DITA in CCMS

Subject: Flat files in Flare, vs. DITA in CCMS
From: "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2014 21:51:36 +0000


Greetings from the new gig. One month in. (Great place, great opportunity.)

I'm trying to get my mind around the difference between what MadCap likes to refer to as the "flat file" nature of information in Flare, vs. the structured information in DITA/XML files housed in a component content management system (CCMS). If I've got that right.

There seem to be several definitions of "flat file" and the one I'm after has to do with the data in the file not being, if I understand this right, hierarchical or structured, within the file. This contrasts with DITA, where a DITA/XML file has a very hierarchical structure based on the DITA spec. (Certain rules about what elements can go in what kind of topic and in what order, what subelements they can have, what attributes each of those elements in the topic can have, etc.)

The definitions of "flat file" I'm *not* talking about are first, the one where all files are stored in a single directory, and second, a "flat file system" or structure within a database, which has to do with a lack of relationship between tables (that's as far as I'm going to guess with that one).

So again, as far as I can get with this, I think we're talking about the data in a Flare file is not really tagged according to any hierarchical standard. (Well, maybe it's XML or XHTML, and I believe it can also import DITA, but I'm talking about versus true DITA functionality.)

So how would you describe the difference between what makes a file "flat" and what would make the same file "non-flat" or structured if they're the same thing?

Thanks for any help you can provide in clarifying this. What I'm really getting at is the difference between HATs like Flare, and full-blown DITA-based CCMS's -- but from the standpoint of the content (topics).


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