Publish High-Quality, Print-Ready DITA in less than a day

Summary: Everyone says, “Publishing DITA is Hard!” But the truth is you can publish DITA content for ePub and Print output with very little work. The promise that vendors (like us) have been giving for 20 years is real today. I published Arbortext 101 in less than one day for less than $1400 all-in and I’m including software, time, and effort. A 100% indie published book. I did it and so can you. Here’s how.

My first book went live this morning: Arbortext 101. It is also the first book about Arbortext that was not published by PTC.* Arbortext is an extremely simple XML authoring and publishing suite of programs. It’s got an editor, a styling tool, a server-based publishing application, and a content management system. It’s 20 years old this year.

In my career, I’ve used nearly all of the XML/SGML tools out there. I like different tools for different purposes. I’m a big fan of the “right tool for the job” as it were. When I approached the project, I decided that I’d distill the 5000+ pages of technical documentation that gets published with the product into a short book that documents the best practices that we’ve developed over the 15 years as users and customers of Arbortext.

A couple of things happened close together…

Continue reading “Publish High-Quality, Print-Ready DITA in less than a day”

Arbortext Version 7.0 Released

Summary of SPR Fixes in Arbortext 7.0 F000 release

Arbortext 7.0 was released last week. We saw a preview of what was coming last month and have been eagerly awaiting the release. There’s some big improvements with this release and some special treats for the early adopters.

What’s in the release? Support for DITA 1.3. A new JavaScript IDE for APP source in both Styler and APP. And a host of other features, including one that our customers requested!

7.0 will require new license generation, but 7.0 licenses are backwards compatible and will support older releases at the same time.  If you have an active maintenance contract, you can download Arbortext 7.0 at no additional cost from the PTC website.

We’re testing 7.0 for our customers right now and we’ll be talking about what we find in the Mastermind session in October. Come to the Mastermind if you want a look at 7.0 before you start testing your environment and getting ready to upgrade.  If you need any help testing your customizations or stylesheets, we can help! Join the Arbortext Mastermind or contact us at

For now, this post will take you through the highlights of the release. Details on each feature and specific bug fixes contained in the release can be found in the release notes on the PTC website.

If you want details about what’s in the release, read on… Continue reading “Arbortext Version 7.0 Released”

Arbortext Styler 7.0 includes Stylesheet IDE

Arbortext Styler 7.0 includes new JavaScript IDE for better stylesheet development

APP became available to anyone who wanted to do high-quality print output about midway through the 5.4 release stream. Since 6.0 we’ve been encouraging people creating new stylesheets to use APP as their main rendering engine over FOSI. It’s new technology for many of us, but it’s so powerful that the benefits curve has always surpassed the learning curve.

In 6.0, APP source edits were new and a bit tough to learn. Documentation was there, but there was a lot of it and it was unfamiliar. It changed as APP Desktop features got more exposed in Styler throughout the 6.0 and 6.1 releases.

From time to time, we still find customers using FOSI when they’re creating new stylesheets. (We even find it in new stylesheets created by some of the other PTC partners.) Doing this now carries a serious risk: With 7.0 PTC has moved FOSI and XSL-FO engines to Sustained Support.  You should be using APP as the base rendering engine for Arbortext PDF output.

There are a few APP coding courses around out there — all in the hands of Qualified Arbortext Channel Partners. Until now, your only option was to take in-person or in-center training from one of them.

For the first time, with 7.0, it’s easier to make the move to APP. You can use JavaScript as your primary stylesheet coding language (this part isn’t new) and you can use the brand-new IDE that comes with both Styler and APP Desktop (this is!).  The IDE can really help you learn APP source coding.

The IDE has code completion. It has syntax validation. It has a debugger. It’s never been easier to find out if what you think is happening in your stylesheet is what actually is happening. And that’s invaluable to stylesheet developers.

If you’re ready to move your Stylersheets to APP, we’re one of the partners ready to train you. Just drop us a line and we’ll help you understand how to train your brain to think APP and move on from FOSI.