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…

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Gilbane Boston 2010: Content assets permeate every aspect of an organization

Single-Sourcing Solutions at Gilbane Boston 2010 will be talking Content Strategy for Today’s Information Lifecycle

We’re headed to Boston, MA for the Gilbane Conference tomorrow. We’re looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. After more than a decade in the industry, we’re looking forward to sharing stories, lessons learned, and thoughts about content strategy, management, and delivery!

We’ve got two presentations. One’s a product lab where we’re talking about how you can “Transform Your Content Strategy for Today’s Media and Beyond” (Thursday 2 December 8:30-9:30 AM). We’re going to show you how to take your content from creation to multiple media channels, such as social media. Instantly publish it and connect with your customers anywhere they’re looking for you.

The other is a panel. We’re honored to be included in panel T7 XML Implementations & Information Lifecycle (Thursday 2 December 2:00-3:20 PM) organized by Dale Waldt, Senior Consultant for Outsell’s Gilbane Group. XML and content tools need to be thoughtfully configured to create feasible processes that produce the desired business benefits. This session explores the XML information lifecycle and how XML and content tools and systems can be deployed to their best advantage.

As we did for several events this year, we’ll be tweeting throughout the event. We hope you’ll join us virtually, if not in person at the event. You can find us in the exhibit hall!

Wondering whether single sourcing really works?

Next week I’ll be speaking at the Content Management Strategies conference happening in Santa Clara, CA. This is the JoAnn Hackos conference that started out as a conference looking at content management. Several years ago, it added a DITA track, and now it’s almost entirely DITA focused. The tracks have settled down the last year or so: Authoring, Technical, Management, and Demo. Technical almost always means DITA.

It’s been small the last couple of years, but all conferences have been down in overall attendance. It’s a sign of the times. (One exception was PTC/User in 2009 where we saw the same number of Arbortext attendees as in 2008. All other tracks were down 20%.)

I’ve presented at this conference many times.  For me, it has always been a conference not to miss. Luckily, the CM-Strategies conference is in Santa Clara this year which means no travel for me this year. It made the decision to attend a slam-dunk.

This year, I decided to do something a little bit different with my presentation. It’s not the usual technical presentation or in-depth case study. With the launch of the new Arbortext business unit at PTC, we reached out to long-time Arbortext customers to see where they were.  We wanted to know whether our customers were realizing the full potential of their solutions. We wanted to know what data they’d collected, what lessons they’d learned, and what they’d implemented over time.

The results were absolutely stunning.

We all know there’s a software side to making dynamic information delivery work. Customers who have seen IBM talk, and who have seen the DITA OTK, have come to us and said “Sure, they can get there, but can I?” What if you’re not a software company? What if your paper product is your deliverable? What about the Medtronics of the world? Or the Harcourt School Publishers? Or Mapquest? What’s in your reach? What have customers really achieved over the years? Did they see the ROI they expected?

My talk highlights stories from companies who have been doing dynamic information delivery with Arbortext for a very long time. It’s not a single-case study, but many aggregated together. I’ve included qualified, hard data on benefits, breadth of projects, and feature impact on long-term implementations.

Sure to be as eye-opening for you as it was for me.  See you there!


See the slides and watch the video of the same session presented in the TC Dojo.

Where Are They Now?