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!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Talisman: Rome now available on Talisman Island

Several years ago, my friend Cameron Crawford and I developed a fan expansion for the board game, Talisman (2nd Edition) from Games Workshop.

I am a huge fan of ancient Rome and the Roman Army. Cam is a huge fan of Greek and Roman mythology. We decided to combine our interests and our love of the Talisman board game to create Talisman: Rome. Most of the artwork is lovingly borrowed, so we cannot sell our creation nor can others sell it.

Thanks to some templates provided by Jon New of Talisman Island, I recently updated Talisman: Rome for Talisman (4th Edition) from Fantasy Flight Games.

Both versions are available for free download from Talisman Island.

I also had the expansion printed by Print and Play Games. The results are terrific!

I hope others with similar interests in board games, Talisman or ancient Rome will appreciate this labor of love!

Friday, March 20, 2015

DocBook Version 5.1 now in Public Review

The OASIS DocBook TC [1] members have recently approved a Committee Specification Draft (CSD) and submitted it for 30-day public review:

DocBook Version 5.1
Committee Specification Draft 01 / Public Review Draft 01
11 Feb 2015


DocBook is a general purpose [XML] schema particularly well suited to books and papers about computer hardware and software (though it is by no means limited to these applications). 

The Version 5.1 release introduces assemblies for topic-oriented authoring. It also addresses a selection of bugs and feature requests. 

The Technical Committee provides the DocBook 5.1 schema in other schema languages, including W3C XML Schema and an XML DTD, but the RELAX NG Schema is the normative schema. 

TC Description: 

The DocBook Technical Committee maintains the DocBook family of schemas. 

Public Review Period:

The public review starts 23 March 2015 at 00:00 UTC and ends 21 April 2015 at 23:59 UTC. 

This is an open invitation to comment. OASIS solicits feedback from potential users, developers and others, whether OASIS members or not, for the sake of improving the interoperability and quality of its technical work.

Reviewers may provide comments directly from the comment-tag version of document. The file


contains the HTML version of the draft with a “[comment?]” link next to each section heading. Clicking on this link will launch your email application and begin a message to with the specific section number and title in the subject line. Simply enter your comment and click send.

Note that you must be subscribed to the comment mailing list before sending feedback. Instructions on how to subscribe can be found at


The prose specification document and related files are available here:

HTML (Authoritative):

HTML with inline tags for direct commenting:

Editable source: 


RELAX NG Schemas: 

Schematron Schemas:

XML Catalog:

NVDL Schema:

DocBook V4.x conversion tools:

ZIP distribution file (complete):

For your convenience, OASIS provides a complete package of the prose document and related files in a ZIP distribution file. You can download the ZIP file here:

Additional information about the specification and the OASIS DocBook TC can be found at the TC's public home page:

Comments may be submitted to the TC by any person through the use of the OASIS TC Comment Facility which can be used by following the instructions on the TC's "Send A Comment" page, or directly at:

Comments submitted by TC non-members for this work and for other work of this TC are publicly archived and can be viewed at:

All comments submitted to OASIS are subject to the OASIS Feedback License, which ensures that the feedback you provide carries the same obligations at least as the obligations of the TC members. In connection with this public review of "DocBook V5.1", we call your attention to the OASIS IPR Policy [2] applicable especially [3] to the work of this technical committee. All members of the TC should be familiar with this document, which may create obligations regarding the disclosure and availability of a member's patent, copyright, trademark and license rights that read on an approved OASIS specification. 

OASIS invites any persons who know of any such claims to disclose these if they may be essential to the implementation of the above specification, so that notice of them may be posted to the notice page for this TC's work.

========== Additional references:

[1] OASIS DocBook TC

RF on Limited Terms 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Browser Power plug

Come to the CIDM 2015 CMS/DITA North America conference! I'll be presenting on:

Browser Power: Client-side rendering of DocBook and DITA

What do Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Vivaldi, and Internet Explorer all have in common? Today’s modern browsers can dynamically render DITA and DocBook. Why use a separate rendering step in the publishing process, when the XML can be delivered directly from the server and rendered in any modern browser, including mobile? In this session, you will learn how to customize the browser presentation layer and some of the caveats for the content.

Join CIDM in Chicago, Illinois, April 20-22, 2015 for the 2015 CMS/DITA North America conference, the premier content management event of the year. Meet with your colleagues and build new friendships and relationships.

At 2015 CMS/DITA North America, you'll find a superb line-up of more than 75 presentations and an Exhibition Hall bursting at the seams with the latest technology and product innovations. Each exhibitor offers technologies that help you create content, manage your content store, produce attractive and effective publications, and ensure the quality of what you deliver to customers. Remember, they are anxious to learn about your needs as well. 

Come for the community, experience new insights, and leave with a wealth of new ideas that help you reap the benefits of managing content in your organization. In its 17th successful year, CMS/DITA North America is the premier conference for everyone who manages technical and business content in both small departments and huge global enterprises.

For more information: