Re: Cheicken and eggs scenario for structred writing

Subject: Re: Cheicken and eggs scenario for structred writing
From: Yves Barbion <yves -dot- barbion -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: David Harrison <dharrison -at- moldmasters -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2013 15:06:44 +0200

Hi David

If you are going to move to DITA-structured authoring next year, you can
already do the following this year:

- *Learn the basics of DITA-structured authoring*. Even if you're not
using a DITA XML editor (such as Arbortext) yet, you can already get to
know the DITA content models and structure your content accordingly, using
DITA-styled Word documents. We teach DITA-structured authoring classes and
we can help you to develop DITA-styled Word templates. The main advantage
of these DITA-styled Word documents is that you can learn DITA and
topic-based authoring without having to know XML. And when you move to DITA
XML, you will already know the DITA structures and the most commonly used
DITA elements.
For more information about our DITA-structured authoring classes, see
- *Read some DITA books*. You can find a complete list here:
If Arbortext is going to be your editor, you may want to read this book
first: "Introduction to DITA: A User Guide to the Darwin Information Typing
Architecture, Arbortext Edition" (Paperback) by Joann T. Hackos
- *Prepare your content for conversion*. Once you know the basics of
DITA, you can already prepare your content for conversion. For example, you
can check whether styles have been used consistently. Or you can apply DITA
styles to your content to make the (automated) conversion process easier.
An important aspect of DITA is that it splits up content into information
types: concept, task, reference. You can also do this with your style-based
content and use corresponding styles.
- *Participate in DITA user groups*. There's the DITA Awareness group on
LinkedIn (
and a dita-user group on Yahoo ( ).
- *Watch DITA webinars*. There are tons of free DITA webinars (and
- *Bookmark and read the DITA specification* (or parts of it). Reading
the whole spec from cover to cover may a bit of a challenge: it's 1236
pages and much (or probably most) of the content may not relevant to you
because it describes each and every element. But you may want to discover
the main elements and use those to develop your content models. Examples of
some important DITA elements are:
- topic:
- map:
- task:
- concept:
- reference:
- *Learn the XML basics*. It helps when you know what XML elements and
attributes are and how they interrelate:

Kind regards

Yves Barbion

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