We’ve updated the video recordings in our online DITA course, and today (28th March) we’re uploading the new recordings to our learning area. This means the course will be down for a short while today.
Mike Atherton, Lead Instructor at General Assembly London, tweeted a link to a 2011interview with Ted Nelson on the future of text, document abstraction and transclusion.
Ted Nelson is one of the pioneers of information technology. He has been credited as being the first person to use the words hypertext and hypermedia (although he denies this), transclusion and virtuality.
It’s an interesting description of how content should be independent of format and media, so it can be portable, re-usable and presented in ways that best suit a reader’s needs.
It’s a fair bet that the introduction of the new Troubleshooting information type into the DITA 1.3 technical authoring standard will affect how all Technical Authors write troubleshooting topics, regardless of whether they use DITA or not. That’s because the proposed elements for troubleshooting topics make good sense, and it offers a standardised approach to writing these types of topics.
According to the Oasis DITA standards committee,
Troubleshooting topics provide descriptions of and solutions or workarounds for problem situations that users might encounter. Users refer to troubleshooting information to understand what condition or event generated their problem situation and to find out what they need to do to recover from or work around a problem, or to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
The user would see a topic that looks roughly like this:
Craig Wright emailed us to let us know he has posted a review of our DITA elearning course (see Review – Cherryleaf DITA e-Learning Course).
His conclusion was:
The Cherryleaf DITA course ticked a lot of the boxes for me:good content, good value, and available without having to travel to the South East. The introduction to the key DITA areas was presented very well – I have read similar information in books and online, but I was able to absorb it much better through the e-learning course.
Thank you Craig!
There’s a wonderful German word, die Weltanschauung, which roughly translates as a view of the world. It suggests there is a framework of ideas and beliefs behind people’s descriptions of various things in the world. I was reminded of Weltanschauung at this week’s London Agile Content Meetup, where Rahel Bailie neatly summed up some of the different views of content, content strategy and single sourcing.
Baked v Fried content
CMS Wiki described baked content as “pages that have been generated by a Content Management System, but then moved to a static delivery server, which can serve them at high speed and high volume”. The word “baked” is used, because this approach means you cannot separate the content from the format afterwards. They are baked together.
“Fried” content is where the Web pages are built “on the fly” when they are requested by the end user. Rahel used the example of frying eggs: if you put too many eggs into the frying pan, you can always remove one. Fried content may take a little longer to generate than baked content, but this approach enables you to personalise and filter the content. It also means you can present the information in different ways, depending on which device a person is using.
COPE through technology v COPE through authoring
COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere) is another way of describing single sourcing content.
“COPE through technology” is the view that the content is essentially data that can be managed through software. If you need to create a personalised or filtered view of the content, you get a developer to create that version. If you need to create a mobile-ready version of your site, again you get a developer to do this. Content is often created by completing forms, in order to create structured information.
“COPE through authoring” is the view that the writers can do all of the fine-grain manipulation of content. If you need to create a personalised or filtered view of the content, you get the Technical Author to mark up sections for those different conditions in the content itself. To quote Rahel, “You can then run a transformation script run, which compiles the content into its final form, and uploads the content to the Web CMS, or other publishing platform, for consumption and presentation.” The advantage of this approach is it stops you from being tied to a technology or application. The disadvantage is it relies on your writers being able to mark up and structure the text correctly.
It’s important to be aware of these distinctions when you talk about content, content strategy and single sourcing, because your Weltanschauung may not be shared by the person you’re talking to.
We’ve launched our online DITA self-study elearning course on the Cherryleaf website today.
This online training course teaches the basic skills, and provides an induction, in how to create content using the DITA XML standard. The learning modules in this course contain videos of the trainer with supporting slides and images.
Here’s a sample from the first module in the course:
This video is shown in a smaller size than you’ll see in the course. To maximise the video, click on the fullscreen icon (which looks like a computer screen) on the video player’s task bar.
Our plan is to offer online courses covering the fundamentals of different technical communication subjects, and classroom courses covering the more advanced aspects.
For details on the DITA course, see :
We’ve been busy bees recently, working on some new elearning courses that we plan to be introducing soon. Shortly, we’ll be offering an online course on DITA Fundamentals, and another on Content Strategy. Both courses have been written and are at the User Acceptance and Testing stage. Of these two, you’re likely to see the DITA course released first.
There are two more online courses in the pipeline, which we hope to release at some point in 2014. One relates to policies and procedures, the other to elearning/screencasting.
Our intention is to offer basic courses online, and advanced courses in traditional classroom format. Where there’s demand, we’ll also use Google Hangouts to deliver the advanced courses to overseas delegates.
Dr Tony Self is coming to the UK at the end of October, and we’ve arranged for him to deliver two training public courses on DITA whilst he is over here:
- DITA XML – Basic/Intermediate training course – Tuesday 29th October
- Planning DITA projects – Wednesday 30th October