Improving DITA workflow

Sarah O'Keefe / DITALeave a Comment

An organization’s first foray in DITA and structured content is most often driven by one of the following:

  • Merger or acquisition: After a merger, the organization needs to refactor content workflows and so they decide to move into structured content and DITA.
  • Localization: The organization is growing and needs to ramp up content production in many languages.
  • Smart content: The organization recognizes content as a key business asset and wants to wring maximum value out of the content lifecycle.

A few years after the transition, it’s worthwhile to take another look at your workflow. We recommend doing the following (and Scriptorium offers all of these services):

  • DITA content model review: Re-examine the content model. Can you refactor the DITA content to simplify and streamline your content model? Are the specialized elements still needed, or is there now a core element or a better approach?
  • Publishing review: Are there faster, better ways to deliver the needed output? What about using newer content portals, integrating new data sources, or supporting new output requirements?
  • Localization strategy review: Is your content lifecycle still optimized for localization?

Can refactoring DITA workflows help you? Here are some examples of DITA improvements that can help your bottom line:

  • The process of creating deliverables took a significant amount of time from authors. Scriptorium created a flexible build automation system that eliminated many hours of tedious manual configuration. With automated output, the organization now delivers information that is updated weekly or nightly instead of monthly.
  • The current output formats did not meet customer needs, so Scriptorium created new DITA Open Toolkit plug-ins.
  • DITA authoring was limited to a small group of technical communicators. In the second wave, the authoring process was opened up to subject-matter experts, who now contribute content directly in DITA instead of sending over Word files that require conversion. Scriptorium set up a contributor-friendly DITA authoring environment.
  • Scriptorium found ways to inject additional content into the DITA ecosystem; for example, by creating transformations to get non-DITA XML into DITA.

Do you have DITA up and running already? When you are ready, the next step is to optimize and improve your content model, publishing workflows, and localization strategy. Contact us today to discuss how Scriptorium can help you maximize your return on DITA investment.

We published a previous version of this post in September 2011.

About the Author

Sarah O'Keefe

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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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