The new way of working

We are learning a new tool, Arbortext Editor, as well as understanding how the content manager system, Windchill, works.

DITA promises reusable content, but it mandates a completely different way of thinking and working. Two aspects of this NEW WAY are impacting me right now:

  • Uploading topics into a CMS suddenly feels like exposing one’s writing process before anything is complete—serving what may ultimately be a delicious cake to guests when the cake is only half-baked.
  • Collaboration becomes possible and desirable, but I struggle with needing more flexibility to learn as I write and revise extensively if future knowledge requires it.

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Implemeting DITA

This Spring one of the documentation teams to which I began implementing a Content Management System with the goal of converting all documentation to DITA-based topics. At this point the server for the CMS is running and most of the team has completed the online training in how to use the writing tools. Now the fun begins! Now we must establish editorial policies and figure out how to create reusable topics.

Our first assignment was to take an existing manual and create an outline for how to break it into topics. As a result, we realized how unique most of our topics are, providing little opportunity for reuse. I am a bit behind this process due to deadlines. The manual I am working on, however, reuses material from other books. In the daily stress of meeting deadlines it is hard to make the time to analyze content. But, the analysis step is vital to the success of the project.

 

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