Surprise! It’s about quality.

Sarah O'Keefe / WebinarsLeave a Comment

(Scriptorium Publishing is a JustSystems Services Partner.)

On Monday, August 18, I delivered a webinar on making the transition from desktop publishing to structured authoring. This event was jointly sponsored by Scriptorium Publishing and JustSystems. The recorded version is available here (registration required).

During the presentation, we did some audience polling. And here, there were some surprises for me. We asked:

How are you authoring content today? (choose any)

  • 31%, Word
  • 14%, HTML authoring tool (i.e. Dreamweaver)
  • 69%, Desktop publishing tool (i.e. unstructured FrameMaker, PageMaker, InDesign)
  • 20%, Help authoring tool (i.e. RoboHelp, Flare, AuthorIT)
  • 37%, XML authoring tool (i.e. XMetaL or structured FrameMaker)

Nothing too shocking here, although I was a little surprised to see such a high number for XML authoring in a session on how to transition to structure.

In poll 2, things got very interesting:

What is the level of authoring at your organization? (choose one)

9%, #1. Chaos. No consistency
4%, #2. Documents match on paper
16%, #2.5 We have a template and sometimes follow it.
60%, #3. Template-based authoring. Repeatable process for creating consistently formatted documents
10%, #4. Structured authoring. Programmatic enforcement of required organization

When I ask this question a roomful of people, it’s rare to get an admission of level 1. I’ve never seen anything like 10 percent of a live audience choose number 1. Perhaps the relative anonymity of a webinar is a contributor?

We asked some questions about skillsets with nothing of particular interest to report. Finally, we inquired about the business driver for structure implementation:

What is your critical business driver behind looking to improve how you manage content?
(choose one main driver)

10%, Speed up time-to-market
30%, Improve satisfaction with customer-facing documentation
3%, Comply with regulatory requirements
12%, Reduce localization cost
27%, Improve staff productivity
13%, Reduce production cost
4%, Other

The surprise here was that, at least in this group, the most single common response was a quality answer (“improve satisfaction”) rather than a cost-reduction answer.

My session was the first in a series of three webinars we are doing jointly with JustSystems. The next two sessions will focus on the DITA Open Toolkit. Simon Bate, Senior Technical Consultant with Scriptorium, will deliver an overview of the Open Toolkit on August 26 and a session on troubleshooting and customizing the Open Toolkit on September 23. The webinars are free, but advance registration is required here. Hope to see you there.

About the Author

Sarah O'Keefe


Content strategy consultant and founder of Scriptorium Publishing. Bilingual English-German, voracious reader, water sports, knitting, and college basketball (go Blue Devils!). Aversions to raw tomatoes, eggplant, and checked baggage.

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