Publishing out of the box with the DITA-OT

Here is a summary of my demo at DITA Europe 2018 in Rotterdam about publishing DITA content with the Open Toolkit “out Of The box”.

You have just started experimenting with DITA maps and topics and you’re wondering just how much you can do with the DITA-OT out of the box? Plenty, actually.

Let’s see how you can control certain aspects of your publications directly from the command line, through property files, in Ant builds or through publication scenarios in your editor or CCMS.

Parameters you might need most often involve output format, filter files, linking, labels and basic styling.
It’s worth giving them a try, before starting developing custom OT plugins and extensions.

Publishing DITA oOTb (Prezi)


Designing for Knowledge

Let me start with the takeaway from Information Energy 2016:

“Information cannot be intelligent. Intelligent means to propagate and enrich itself. It’s the processing that has to be intelligent.”

Andy McDonald, initiator of Documentation 4.0 and Infomedian of the Year 2016.

The Infomedian Arena is not new at Information Energy, but I must say that this year Wim and his team have done a great job at animating the arena and a few new forum sessions about the future of information and Documentation 4.0.

We have discussed statements about short term and long term expectations during the Future of Information forum, with Ric van Westhreenen, Eva Vangenechten, Joyce Karemann, Kate Thomas, Paolo Peraro, myself and other conference attendees. Common themes were augmented reality, artificial intelligence, open source collaboration.

During the two days I have seen quite an interesting mix of workshops and talks, from concepts and tools to real applications of content design. Just as a sidenote: the iRobot vacuum cleaner was mentioned in at least three talks, including mine. I wonder, what intelligent product is going to be the IEn favorite next year?

It is always interesting to see teams coming from different areas of information design working together and learning from each other. This was again the case in my wokshop and I was glad to see the discussions continued afterwards.

The closing Documentation 4.0 Forum assigned us some homework: join the doc4 LinkedIn group and help define the direction, terminology, consensus, and the skillset for techcomm.

Workshop Abstract: Modelling intelligent content

Know the touchpoints of your customers’ journey with your technical content. Use methods from your information architecture toolkit to research and plan for intelligent content.

Modelling Content Workshop IEn2016

In the age of connected experience, you have to accompany youraudience at all times and across media, as they research and use your product or service. Your role is constantly evolving from technical writer to communicator/ infomedian and you have to add skills and methods to your toolkit to create rich, intelligent content for your users.

Most technical communicators are already familiar with methodslike persona, use-cases and task analysis. In addition, let’s see how drawing the customers’ journey map and identifying their touchpoints with your content channels can help you discover an information model.

To deliver the right content that serves your audience where and when they need it, we’ll plan the main content publishing pipelines and we’ll wireframe a few publication types.

Finally, using a DITA-XML project, we’ll draft the information architecture (metadata, linking and reuse strategy) and we’ll set up the semantic markup structure of the content topics.

Join the workshop, June 8 on “Modelling intelligent content” to experiment with a few research and analysis methods and to create a sample content project.

TIM Anwender-Konferenz 2016

182 Teilnehmer wurden 6.-7. Juni in Konstanz mit süßen, runden Informationen versorgt.

Süße, runde Informationen

Meine dritte TIM-Anwender Konferenz habe ich als TIM-Player, als “FCT Insider”, erlebt und durfte diesmal sehen, wie ernst und mit wieviel Begeisterung sich meine Kollegen für die zwei Tage vorbereiten.

Ich arbeite seit Januar in der Solutions Abteilung. Mit diesem Team arbeiten Sie am meisten, wenn Sie TIM in Ihrem Unternehmen implementieren oder erweitern. Meine unermüdliche Kollegen, die Techniker und Berater, begleiten alle Kundenprojekte und kennen somit aus erster Hand die Themen, die Sie am meisten interessieren. Sie schätzen Ihr Feedback, sammeln die Fragen und Lösungen und machen sich Gedanken, wie sie die Kenntnisse am besten den Kunden überbringen.

Impressionen, Fotos und Folien über die 28 Vorträge von Kunden, Partner und FCT-Team finden Sie auf der Konferenz-Seite:


Mit Intelligenten Informationen begeistern

So lautete das Schwerpunktthema der tekom-Frühjahrstagung 2016 in Berlin: „Die Nutzer mit Intelligenter Information begeistern“. Der Keynote-Vortrag von  Prof. Wolfgang Henseler hat das Publikum davon überzeugt, dass um User Experience 4.0 zu erzielen, Produkte und Dienstleistungen “den Menschen befähigen und entlasten müssen, ihn aber nicht entmündigen!”

An beiden Konferenztagen durfte ich den Workshop “Einführung eines DITA-Pilot-Projekts – planen, starten, testen!” moderieren. Vielen Dank an den 50 Teilnehmern fürs Mitmachen und für ihren wertvollen Fragen und Feedback.

Es gab noch mehr aus der DITA-Welt in Berlin. Zum Beispiel: Dr. Sven Leukert von SAP hat die DITA-Spezialisierung und die üblichen Missverständnisse darüber erklärt; Jang Graat hat uns personalisierte Informationen mit Sahnehäubchen serviert.

Standbesucher und FCT-Team

Besucher und Berater am FCT-Messestand

Meine Kollegen von FCT AG, sowie unsere Partner von CCS Solutions haben sich über die Standbesucher in Berlin gefreut und sind schon gespannt auf die Jahrestagung in Stuttgart.

Content Strategies and the spirit of DITA

The mini-tracks during Content Strategies 2016/ DITA North America have shown DITA development in so many fields of content and communication:Washington Monument

  • Lightweight DITA
  • Taxonomy
  • Video
  • Translation
  • Learning and Training
  • Medical Industry
  • DITA for the Machine Industry

The spirit of DITA, as Michael Priestley reminded us in one of his presentations, is to ADAPT. The more options and tools are emerging, the more ways there are to connect and grow towards Enterprise Content Management, to consolidate, coordinate, collaborate on common content across departments.

From one track to the other, conference attendees could learn about minimal content models that “can still go crazy” (Michael Priestley), ditamaps handling decision points as a dynamic flow (Chris Nitchie), cross-format content in ditamaps (Carlos Evia), shaping the content with taxonomy (Joe Pairman), card-based content authoring and delivery (SAP), simple DITA format for translation (George Bina), augmented linguistic review (WhP).

To encourage even more teams to adopt DITA, I presented the model2dita project and was glad to see it struck a chord, just as it did last November at DITA Europe in Munich.

model2dita: Generate your DITA project structure from the information model

What is your process when you start a new documentation project in DITA? How do you decide on the content and by which magic does it turn into DITA topics and maps? To develop effective, user-oriented information, you should invest most of your time in researching your audience and in task analysis rather than clicking New > File > Map, New > File > Topic and dragging topicrefs

New DITA writers often find it difficult to envision the transformation of the information outline to the actual DITA structure. Others don’t even have the habit of starting with an information model in the research phase of a project.

The prezi shows the importance of the modeling phase in the writing workflow, as well as some methods and tools for translating the model into a DITA project structure automatically.

Moreover, I owe a hat tip to Paul Zimmerman (CISCO) for mentioning my last year’s project, rst2dita, about markdown round-tripping in his presentation “Get to Gittin’ On: Integrating code and content management in Git“.

Touring Reston, VA and Washington, DC was remarkable. See you all again in Munich in November.