Sep 1, 2012 Ξ Comments are off

Rise of the DITA tools

posted by Tenneti

In the world of technical documentation, it all began with word processing applications such as Microsoft Word. Technical writers, then, moved to desktop publishing tools such as Adobe FrameMaker. Integrating content across documents and focusing on single-sourcing, content management systems and component content management solutions from XMetal and ArborText ruled the roost. Now, with an aim to integrate content management with publishing and content needs of various teams across the organizations, companies are considering new approaches to documentation. In addition to this, most companies are looking forward to a robust dynamic publishing solution that caters to the needs of the end user dynamically.

When DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) emerged as the next big thing in technical communication, writers across the globe expected a huge transformation. Based on the 2012 WritersUA User Assistance Tools Survey, it is obvious that DITA Open Toolkit (OT) and DITA tools are fast gaining importance in the world of technical communication. Not surprisingly, though, Adobe FrameMaker and RoboHelp occupy the fifth and sixth positions in the twenty most popular documentation tools. DITA OT is moving up fast from its earlier 18th position. Here is an account of some of the popular and promising DITA products that are gaining momentum in the realm of technical documentation.

1. DITAToo – With a tagline that speaks about “Spreading DITA throughout the Organization,” this product allows content reuse and single sourcing effectively. Added to this, it promise content reuse, not just for the technical documentation team, but for any team within the organization that has information needs. DITAToo is brought to us by iG5 Authoring Tools. In their own words, “By identifying the needs of the technical communications community, iG5 Authoring Tools creates and distributes utilities that automate FrameMaker workflows and facilitate authoring and publishing processes.”

2. easyDITA – Living up to its ‘easy’ reputation, this product runs as a complete solution entirely in a web browser without a need to buy any third-party components. For all of us who have experience in other XML-based authoring tools, this product might come across as a big relief because of its tag-less WYSIWYG DITA XML editor. No more hassles in identifying the right tags. It also offers component content management benefits such as link management, digital asset management, versioning, document life cycle tracking and reporting, and many more features.

3. SDL’s Structured Content offerings – SDL aims to offer integrated global information management solutions for content creation, content management, translation management, multi-channel publishing, and cusotmer experience optimization. This company provides web content management solutions, eCommerce solutions, structured content solution, language technologies and services. As part of its Structured Content solutions, SDL offers the following products:
a) SDL Global Authoring Management System
b) SDL Xopus
c) SDL Trisoft for DITA
d) SDL Contenta for S1000D
e) SDL Contenta for Custom XML
f) SDL LiveContent for DITA
g) SDL LiveContent for S1000D

In their own words, “SDL Trisoft was selected from more than 800 products after comprehensive assessment by the KMWorld judging panel. All products selected demonstrate clearly identifiable technology breakthroughs that serve the vendors’ full spectrum of constituencies, especially their customers.”

SDL LiveContent for DITA focuses on dynamic publishing for the end user through its unique features such as living XML content, automatic incremental updates, and improved information products. SDL has also announced the integration of SDL Trisoft (DITA-based Component Content Management System) and SDL LiveContent (a dynamic delivery engine) to provide dynamic publishing of technical documentation.

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