Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Automated Customized Documents with DITA

This one is by one of my favorite speakers, Dave Gash.

You should have some experience with DITA for this session (uh oh), but this session will focus on conrefs and conitionalizing. This is a case study.

Problem is, client sells website software, that integrates into existing website. For each customer, client provides installation instructions document (IID). IIDs are customized for each costumer. New docs are created by hand, cut & paste, very error prone. Speedy--and accurate--IIDs are a huge advantage.

Old process, take some Word docs, info from sales, and information form a customer database, pull it into Word, and create a new document.

Goal was to create a read-only master template that works for all combinations of documents and is customizable for any customer. Also to automate the document production process. And make the proces easily usable by installation managers.

DITA excels at insertion of customer-specific information, called conrefs, pr replacing of variable data, and inclusion/exclusion of content blocks, or build conditions.

Content references (conrefs) insert dynamic data.

Tool used includes DITA Open Tookkit, XMLmind XXE Editor Personal Edition, WinANT Echidna and build GUI, and a lightweight web server. What does all this cost? $0. Able to learn if it would all work in the proof of concept by spending nothing at all on software.

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