Thursday, August 04, 2016

Media Standards for XML

Please excuse the vanity post, but I'm proud to be a contributing author to The Language of Technical Communication! My article is entitled, "Media Standards for XML" on pg 78. Lots of great information in this book compiled by Ray Gallon. Check it out!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Geek Force for Good

I want to give a shout out to the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC), which helps communities with their technology infrastructure after a disaster.

I found out about the group during the 2013 floods in Colorado, where we specifically deployed to Lyons, Jamestown and Boulder.

The ITDRC has Field Disaster Response Teams (FDRT) and Remote Response Teams (RRT) from all across the United States and are comprised of service oriented IT and AV Professionals from many technology disciplines who volunteer their expertise and skills in times of disaster. We use our tech skills to help communities and small businesses continue operations and successfully recover from disaster.

If you have any technical expertise (especially with wifi, networking, radio communications), we would love to get you on board! Visit for more info. We also love equipment and financial donations. See if your company would be willing to help us help those in need!

This past weekend, we held an Operations Field Exercise in Richardson, Texas. It was a great time to connect with other tech geeks and learn about our deployment kits and mobile command centers.

Monday, February 01, 2016

DITA 1.3 is now an official OASIS Standard

I'm pleased to announce DITA 1.3 is now an official OASIS standard!

From the press release:
 "The OASIS open standards consortium today announced that its members have approved the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) version 1.3 as an OASIS Standard, a status that signifies the highest level of ratification. DITA defines an XML architecture for designing, writing, and publishing information in numerous formats, including print, Web-based, mobile, and electronic publications. DITA is widely used for professionally-published books and magazines, technical documentation, online help, training and course development, marketing materials, and medical information because of its modular, topic-based approach and its ability to support content reuse.
This release of DITA comes in three parts, optimized for different audiences:
  • Base Edition is designed for application developers and users who need only the most fundamental pieces of the DITA framework.
  • Technical Content Edition includes specializations usually used by technical communicators.
  • All Inclusive Edition is designed for implementers who want all OASIS-approved specializations, as well as users who develop learning and training materials."
 For the spec or to download the schemas, go to:

The latest version of the DITA Open Toolkit also has support for v1.3, and can be downloaded here:

Several XML Editors have also added support for DITA v1.3, including:
  • oXygen XML Editor
  • XMetaL

Monday, May 11, 2015

Optimizing the DITA Authoring Experience

I'll be giving a webinar tomorrow through the DCL Learning Series on "Optimizing the DITA Authoring Experience". There is still time to register:

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Schema TRON

One of the members of our DITA Boot Camp this week kept referring to Schematron in an ominous voice because it looks at your actual writing content (as opposed to DTD or RNG that validates the structure). It became a bit of a joke, so I was inspired to create the following wallpaper. Since Tron is part of the name "Schematron", I used the Tron Legacy theme! And now for your enjoyment...

Friday, May 01, 2015

Highlights from the CMS/DITA NA 2015 Conference

The Content Management Strategies/DITA North America 2015 conference was held April 20-22 in Chicago, Illinois. Over 350 attendees learned best practices in four tracks: Information Design & Development, Technical Solutions, Management, and Emerging Technologies.

As a member of the CIDM staff, I was fortunate to host the Emerging Technologies track and got a chance to learn about a few new technologies, myself! If you missed it, I tried to Live Tweet the key points from each of the sessions here: #cmsconference #emergingtechnologies

Several "game changer" presentations included:
So what was game changing?

The guys at oXygenXML have developed a series of pipeline transforms (Project DITA Glass) that let you, for example, use a topicref (with a special url) to an Excel spreadsheet directly. That URL is transformed on-the-fly directly to DITA, which can then be rendered directly in a table as part of your document! It also can round-trip, so any changes made in the DITA are written back into the Excel sheet.

This is important for those times when you need information from a subject matter expert, but don't want to teach them DITA or have to manually convert their content so you can use it. It's a one-stop shop! They are working on many more transforms. My hope is that they will create one for PowerPoint to DITA for all of the Learning and Training folks out there. Most course developers still work in PowerPoint, but it would be much more powerful to use the DITA publishing tool chains for various outputs while letting the developers still create in their familiar tool.

Another one-stop shop technology is the Dynamic Information Model. Comtech and oXygenXML have partnered together to create an XML-based Information Model, where a company can document their editorial and content structures, while also enabling the automatic enforcement and expression of that Model in the authoring environment! It basically generates the schematron rules and tool tips for authors from the Information Model itself. Very powerful!

A consistent theme in emerging technologies and technical solutions was the dynamic rendering of DITA content (server-side and client-side). There were several approaches presented, but they basically eliminate the DITA-OT publishing step by using CSS+XSL to render DITA content directly or on-demand.

Another particularly interesting theme was presenting technical information in an Augmented Reality environment. In fact, there is a new technical committee being formed at OASIS to address this very subject area! There are some tools available today for creating AR, including DAQRI 4d Studio, Metaio creator and SDK, Wikitude SDK, nGrain. The benefits of this technology include: reduce quality errors, contextual instructions at point of use, remote expert support, increased productivity. AR statistically has been proven to improve first time quality on assembly tasks, with fewer errors. AR can provide procedural steps, along with an overlay of task location, assembly info and more to assist in the completion of a task.

Did you know that by 2020, 103 million cars will be AR-enabled? Are you aware of AR devices, such as Google Glass, Microsoft Hololens, and DAQRI? Now is the time to start preparing your technical content for use with these types of devices. The future is so bright, we need to wear AR shades!