From my previous posts, you probably know how passionate I am about structured content.
For end-users, capabilities to automatically assemble, aggregate, and generate content means an ability to get a new knowledge from scattered pieces of information based on context and situational user’s needs.
For content authors, it means an easier, faster, and more reliable way to create and maintain content. Here are a couple of practical examples of how automated content assembly and generation may work: Textual troubleshooting topics to a flowchart and Topics to a system architecture diagram with an automatically aggregated description table.
Add here all commonly cited features, like powerful and flexible content reuse, enforced consistency, reduced translation costs, easy content personalization and customization, and you’ll feel the whole new world of possibilities.
Now back to the real world.
In the real world, a challenge that can undermine the whole value of the structured content is the complexity of the content model. Let’s face it: learning XML elements, rules and practices of their nesting, and the new authoring environment does require an extra effort. While this effort can be usually justified in the long run, companies are often looking for something that could bring a substantial return immediately, without having to wait months until they begin to actually see any tangible results.
Ideally, it should look something like this: you keep authoring in MS Word in the same way you’ve been doing up until now, while behind the scenes, somehow magically, structured content in a format, like DITA is generated. DITA silently and hiddenly working under the hood would be a perfect solution that could bring you the benefits of the both worlds. You wouldn’t have to deal with the complexity of the DITA’s content model but could enjoy all the amazing things it introduces. Nice dream, huh?
That’s why I was so excited when I met Doug Gorman of SimplyXML for the first time. Their tool called Content Mapper is doing exactly what I described. It’s an add-on to MS Word that lets you author content in MS Word in the same way as you do it now, but behind the scenes, DITA is generated. No need to choose elements, think how they should be nested, or have other considerations that you usually have when working with a “traditional” DITA editor. It’s the same DITA that you would get from any other DITA editor, just without having to dive into the world of XML elements and hierarchies.
Just take a look at this short video that I’ve recorded to give you a rough idea of how Content Mapper works.
So Doug and I have decided to conduct a joint webinar to show you that MS Word and DITA are not mutually exclusive options any more. They can be friends and, most importantly, DITA can become much more friendly to you.
Join us and you’ll find out how you can author, manage, and publish DITA while staying in MS Word.
But that’s not all. You’ll also see the whole new world of automation opportunities that structured content opens to you – now, when creating structured content is much simplified. In addition to authoring, managing, and publishing capabilities, you’ll see how content can be automatically assembled and generated.
Just think about it: wouldn’t it be great if you could write a troubleshooting procedure in MS Word and then just with a couple of clicks get an automatically generated flowchart representing the troubleshooting process visually?
To let you join us at the time that works for you best, we are doing the webinar twice, once in the timeslot that fits better your schedule if you’re in North America, and one more time in the timeslot that works better if you are in Europe:
See you there!