Dr Tony Self’s DITA training courses in London

We’ve arranged for Dr. Tony Self to host his DITA training workshops in London this October. Tony is based in Australia, and he also known as “Dr. DITA”, as he has a PhD in DITA. He is also the author of “The DITA Style Guide”.

Publishing with the DITA Open Toolkit, 8 October 2012

Most DITA implementations start with the DITA Open Toolkit (OT) being used for publishing of DITA content. The Open Toolkit is developed and managed separately from the DITA standard itself, and provides an open-ended collection of tools and sample files. Although some DITA tools provide alternative publishing paths for DITA content, many DITA authoring tools rely on the OT.

In this workshop, you will learn how to install, configure, test, customise, and publish DITA documents using the DITA Open Toolkit. Along the way, you will discover why the OT appears to be complicated and quirky. You will also learn its relationship with DITA, and how it is typically integrated with a DITA authoring tool. The OT’s command line publishing interface is quite daunting for many, so you will also discover how the free WinANT Echidna tool can provide a friendly, feature-rich interface.

We will work hands-on to explore how to provide customised PDF and HTML output and corporate “badging” of output. A number of third party plug-ins extend the functionality of the OT further, and we will also experiment with some of these useful extensions.

DITA authoring best practices, 9 October 2012

As more companies implement DITA to streamline the development of documentation and user assistance, best practices for DITA authoring are being established. While the OASIS DITA standard provides rules for the use of elements and attributes, it does not provide clear guidelines for how to practically apply the mark-up, and how to create consistency so that DITA documents can be more readily interchanged. DITA has the potential to change habits of composition, expression and presentation for a broad range of writers and in so doing enhance productivity across a number of industries and occupations.

Adopting best practices will enable authors to maximise their productivity. In traditional authoring, best practices are often captured in a style guide, providing real-world examples and clear recommendations. However, existing style guides are written for style-based authoring, and not for DITA’s semantic mark-up approach. Tony Self has analysed the way in which DITA has been used, and has developed a DITA Style Guide to fill the gap between the DITA standard and traditional style manuals. In this workshop, Tony describes what constitutes best practice in DITA, explains the rationale behind the commonly used DITA elements and structures, and works through practical examples of best practice decisions.

The workshop will also cover the basics of DITA authoring. It is aimed at authors new to DITA and experienced authors wanting to improve their practices.