Flare or Frame as an intermediary for migrating to DITA?

Subject: Flare or Frame as an intermediary for migrating to DITA?
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: Sat, 11 Oct 2014 22:13:04 +0000

Hi,

This is for futures.

Short version of the question: If you're converting legacy content from unstructured to structured in XML/DITA, and let's say you have or will have a CCMS with either a built-in XML editor or a third-party one like oXygen or XMetaL... Would it make sense to use either Flare or Structured FrameMaker as your intermediary to convert unstructured content to XML/DITA and then export to your CCMS with editor?

So you might have legacy content in any of these formats:

* Plain text
* MS Word
* FrameMaker (unstructured)
* InDesign
* MadCap Flare

For Flare, my understanding of how it works with DITA is this: It can import DITA topics and converts them into Flare-proprietary topics. Then you edit, and export back to DITA and Flare converts it back to a DITA-compliant topic. Now, you're not importing DITA in my example, just legacy content from one of the other formats. So using Flare as an intermediary, you'd import the legacy content into Flare, "prepare" it in a manner that approximates DITA structure (as much as you can within Flare), then export ("publish" or "build") to DITA.

Or, using Structured FrameMaker in this example, you'd import the unstructured content into Frame+XML (let's call it), structure it to be DITA-compliant, and then simply save out.

In either case, you would take the resulting DITA output and use it in your CCMS with that system's editor (either built-in, or the external like oXygen or XMetaL).

Does this make sense versus doing the conversion right in the CCMS's editor?

The reason I bring this up is that it seems more people are familiar with working in Frame and Flare than in oXygen, XMetaL, and the big CCMSs. So it might be feasible to use Frame or Flare as your "middleman."

Flare does not seem as suited for this purpose but it might work, especially with Flare source content, of course.

But the advantages of using Frame+XML for this seem to be, on the plus side, that it's an Adobe product so it would be a natural for converting Unstructured Frame files, InDesign files, and the like. I'm guessing Frame also handles Word and plain text files pretty easily (from memory).

Also, existing Frame and Flare licenses are more plentiful.

I know there are companies that specialize in data conversion, but if you go the in-house route, I'm wondering if anybody on the list has had experience with this kind of thing, and what you found.

Thanks so much.

Steve


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