Using ditamaps to provide reuse visibility

A CMS provides multiple ways to access topics, and multiple ways to reuse information, but a major barrier to successful reuse is communication among authors. Each writer must have a way to learn about topics that are available for reuse. We have decided to create a DITAmap of potential shared content based on the type of information to be reused. For example, all hardware manuals may share common topics. The same goes for driver manuals and software applications.

We created a folder in our CMS to contain ditamaps that are used for purposes other than to create deliverables. For example, this folder contains drivers.ditamap, hardware.ditamap, etc. Contained within each ditamap are complete topics that can be reused as well as topics that contain the source elements for content references (conrefs).

Each topic that contains the source of a conref is meant to also contain any derivitives that may be created based on that conref. This not only provides a logical place from which to reference reusable conref, but also visibility into how information is used to derive new information. Frequently, only a few words require changing because of the context in which a reusable chunk of information appears. Storing related conrefs in the same topic makes them easier to find and reuse.

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