DITA trends from Chicago

The Spring trend at Content Management Strategies/ DITA North America in Chicago has been “markdown-to-DITA”. Many sessions have touched the subject and echoed on social media.
The talk about markdown was opened by George Bina and Radu Coravu. If you haven’t seen the DITA Glass project from SyncroSoft yet, you’d better catch up. They showed how MS Office documents, HTML, markdown, javadocs, PDF are transformed using a Java URL handler into virtual DITA topics. Jarno Elovirta had also released the DITA-OT Markdown plug-in, transforming markdown to DITA topics when generating output.

The debate about content round-tripping is still open. As Jang Graat was demonstrating and even impressing some writers to tears (I kid you not) with his Live DITA project, it may be that techcomm teams do not have to follow the software development workflow after all.

My humble contribution was the rST2DITA round-trip in the Emerging Technologies Track.

“Let’s take one more step towards breaking the silos: With simple XSLT transformations of rST in-line code documentation, you can integrate it with the rest of the DITA topics. Allow writers to edit the documentation in their DITA editor, generate the output and store the sources in the repository. To share the updated sources with developers, do the round-trip between DITA and rST formats, and store the rST version back in the code repository. This method allows developers to keep writing in their favourite environment, yet stay in sync with the rest of the product documentation.”

rst2dita cover

Click the image to open the Prezi slideshow

Upon seeing DITA Glass, my immediate thought was: it makes content crystal clear 🙂 Well… at least for engines. oXygen helps integrating non-DITA resources, giving speed and findabilility to our publications, but it’s  still our role as writers to develop clear, usable and context-relevant content, right?

Might virtual DITA be a workaround, until properly implementing an Enterprise Content Strategy?

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