The Stilo DITA Knowledge Series comprises a range of webinars and articles intended to help improve participants understanding of DITA and the Migrate cloud conversion service.

See what you may have missed – Stilo DITA Knowledge Series

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Recorded Webinars

WEBINAR | A Tale of Two Formats; Creating content with Word and DITA XML simultaneously
Presented by Catherine Long & Rich Perry | Varian Medical Systems

Broadcast: Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Varian Medical Systems
You decide to move to publishing with DITA XML. It all appears wonderful. You purchase a CMS, select an editor, create your information model, and share the plan with your authors. This is great! You begin to analyze documents, get a style sheet designed, prepare and schedule author training, but then problems and issues of resistance start adding up. There are so many different document types (60) and so many global authors (100) who are not tech writers. You begin to realize that unless the company can stop needing to provide service and installation for 3 to 6 months, you are not going to be able to flip the switch and move to DITA all at once.

What can you do?
Make the move at your own pace, and publish documents with Word and DITA simultaneously. Doing so provides many benefits, such as bringing the different document types into the project a few at a time and training authors with their own content already in the system.

Catherine Long and Rich Perry show you how this dual publishing helps you move through the process of moving to DITA so that the experience is easier, and perhaps cheaper, for everyone involved.

View recording (registration required)

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WEBINAR | Intelligent content authoring for everyone
Presented by Mike Iantosca | IBM and Patrick Baker | Stilo

Broadcast: Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Webinar | Intelligent content authoring for everyone

The power of intelligent content becomes possible only when that intelligence is intentionally injected, most often in the form of structure and descriptive semantics. That intelligence helps machines do their automated magic. Most often, the needed structure and semantics are added by humans during content authoring. Content management, for both content development and delivery, generally becomes more powerful, flexible, and valuable with the growth of structure and semantics–but at the price of complexity and required skills for content creators.

Structured content authoring tools have advanced, masking some of that complexity, but even so-called lightweight and tag-less authoring tools leave gaps for diverse content creators and contributors, making intelligent content component strategies for the enterprise an elusive proposition.

Join us for this Stilo DITA Knowledge Series webinar as Mike Iantosca, IBM’s Structured Content Authoring Tools Lead, lays out a multi-tier strategy for addressing the needs of organizations with diverse authoring roles and skills, from professional content creators through casual contributors.

Following Mike’s presentation, Stilo’s Patrick Baker will present the case for a guided + fluid authoring solution for SME’s and casual contributors and provide a demonstration of AuthorBridge, a new cloud XML authoring service which delivers all the advantages of free-form authoring (user-friendly, with little or no restrictions), while ensuring that rich semantic content is generated under the covers, capturing the author intent without any of the complexities of XML.

View recording (registration required)

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WEBINAR | How to prepare your content for conversion to DITA
Presented by Helen St. Denis, Conversion Services Manager | Stilo

Broadcast: Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How to prepare your content for conversion to DITA

So, the decision is made to implement DITA and the content audit is done, now you need to get your content into DITA. So, what do you really need to do to your content before you start the conversion process? Maybe not as much as you may think!

In this webinar we discussed …

  • What is the most useful thing to do pre-conversion?
  • What kind of things influence what else you might want to do pre-conversion?
  • What are the common trouble areas in the different source formats?
  • What is best left for post-conversion?

View recording (registration required)

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WEBINAR | Real-time content conversion to DITA in the cloud
Presented by Les Burnham, CEO and Helen St. Denis, Conversion Services Manager | Stilo

Broadcast: Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Migrate cloud XML conversion service

One of the perceived hurdles to implementing DITA is the seemingly painstaking process of converting your legacy content to the DITA standard. However, converting content to DITA doesn’t have to be that difficult – if, of course, you select the right approach.

Stilo’s Migrate cloud conversion service enables authoring team members to automate the conversion of their content from various source formats including FrameMaker, Word, InDesign, DocBook  and RoboHelp to DITA XML. It can scale from a single document to thousands of documents, and has been used to convert more than a million pages of content to DITA by customers including IBM, Cisco, Extreme Networks, TIBCO, EMC, Intel, Atmel and ACI Worldwide.

In a 30-minute demo, we show how technical authors can

  • Automate the conversion of legacy content to DITA
    (the demo shows FrameMaker)
  • Cut down on manual pre-conversion prep and clean-up tasks
  • Be in complete control of the conversion process
  • Work at their own pace
  • Reduce overall conversion costs

Don’t just take our word for it though – read what some of our customers have to say about Migrate

View recording (registration required)

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WEBINAR: Migration to DITA – The Atmel Story
Presented by Morten Haaker, Senior Project Manager | Atmel Corporation

Broadcast: Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Atmel, a global semiconductor company

Are you thinking about moving to DITA? In addition to learning DITA, tool and vendor selection, creation of stylesheets, change management and other challenges, you may be faced with having to convert thousands of pages of detailed technical information from an unstructured format to DITA.

Learning from the experience of others can make a big difference to your project success and the Atmel story may just help you to better determine your migration strategy.

Join us for this Stilo DITA Knowledge Series webinar as we hear from Atmel Corporation’s Morten Haaker who will show how Atmel, a global semiconductor company, approached the issue of content conversion as an integral part of their DITA implementation.

Morten is a Senior Project Manager at Atmel Corporation responsible for the technical documentation project. Located in Norway, Morten has been with Atmel for more than 12 years. He holds a Master of Computer Science from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and heads up the Nordic SDL LiveContent User Group.

Due to an unforeseen technical problem, we were unable to record this webinar.

View slides

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WEBINAR: Smart guidance in your enterprise authoring environment | Acrolinx and AuthorBridge
Presented by Ulrich Callmeier, COO | Acrolinx
Les Burnham, CEO and Patrick Baker, VP Development & Professional Services | Stilo

Broadcast: Wednesday, February 10, 2016


The Acrolinx platform helps the world's greatest brands create amazing content at scale.

How can you ensure content quality and consistency across your company and how can you be confident your content will achieve the desired results? These are some of the biggest challenges organizations face as they attempt to scale and grow their content production.

Join us, and our partner Acrolinx, for this Stilo DITA Knowledge Series webinar as we show you how content optimization software helps you keep everything you write on-brand and on-target. Built on an advanced linguistic engine, Acrolinx software “reads” and scores your content and guides your writers to make it better. Like having your own personal content coach at all times, Acrolinx pinpoints areas to improve and displays them in a convenient sidebar directly within your authoring environment.

And, as Acrolinx is now integrated with Stilo’s browser-based enterprise DITA authoring solution, AuthorBridge – you can not only guide writers to make content better, you can also guide them to author structured content without requiring any knowledge of DITA or XML. AuthorBridge provides visual controls and cues to guide the author naturally, with no explicit tagging or structure to directly manage, allowing the SME to concentrate exclusively on authoring the content.

The webinar included a demo of Acrolinx and AuthorBridge.

View recording (registration required)

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WEBINAR: “Extreme” DITA conversion—lessons learned from doing it the hard way, Extreme Networks
Presented by Christina Mayr, Technical Editor, InfoDev RDU Team | Extreme Networks

Broadcast: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christina Mayr, Technical Editor, InfoDev RDU Team | Extreme Networks

Converting to DITA can be a difficult and time-consuming process—if you do it the hard way. Extreme Networks converted content 3 years ago, but quickly learned there is an easier, faster, and less expensive way.

Through practical tips and cautionary tales, Christina will help you set up a plan for a successful DITA conversion.

Christina Mayr is the Technical Editor & Content Manager for Extreme Networks. Christina oversees the conversions of legacy content into DITA, manages the tools, templates, and internal workflows, and edits all external technical documentation before publication. A graduate of the East Carolina University Technical & Professional Communication Program, she has worked in central North Carolina in various sectors, including IT, health & safety, and manufacturing.

Christina is the President of the STC Carolina Chapter and recently co-authored an article for STC’s Intercom on knowledge management for technical writers.

Following Christina’s presentation, you can see a demonstration of Stilo’s Migrate cloud conversion service, presented by Conversion Services Manager, Helen St. Denis.

Migrate is an XML cloud service that enables subject matter experts (SMEs) to automate the conversion of their content from various source formats including FrameMaker, Word, InDesign, DocBook and RoboHelp to DITA XML. Migrate provides greater control over conversion quality, immediate turnaround times and operates on a low-cost, pay-as-you-use basis. It can scale from a single document to hundreds of documents, and has been used to convert more than 1 million pages of content to DITA by customers including IBM, Cisco, Extreme Networks, TIBCO, Micron, Intel, Atmel and ACI Worldwide.

View recording (registration required)

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WEBINAR | The emerging model for enterprise content creation: Guided + Fluid DITA authoring for SMEs
Presented by Les Burnham and Patrick Baker | Stilo International

Broadcast: Tuesday, November 24, 2015

AuthorBridge | low-cost, browser-based DITA XML authoring

DITA implementations in large organizations have typically been confined to the domain of tech docs. Unfortunately there are several barriers to the more widespread adoption of DITA, including the cost and availability of appropriate authoring tools. SMEs who make occasional content contributions don’t want to know about DITA or its complexities, or invest a lot of time and effort learning new tools. They want to be able to concentrate exclusively on authoring the content and not spend their time wrestling with the structure.

Up until now, there has traditionally been four classic models of content authoring: free-form, form-driven, structure-driven and template-driven. All have their relative merits, but still fall short of what is required for widespread enterprise DITA adoption.

In this webinar, you will learn about an emerging 5th model for content creation – guided + fluid DITA authoring. We will demonstrate how AuthorBridge, a new web-based editor, can provide the best of all four classic models and more, while providing a paradigm shift in the affordability of structured content authoring.

Note: this was a repeat of our presentation from LavaCon 2015.

View recording (registration required)

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WEBINAR | Much Ado About Templates— Reduce the learning curve and increase productivity at DITA implementation
Presented by Catherine Long, Senior Technical Writer and Rich Perry, PSID Manager | Varian Medical Systems

Broadcast: Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Varian Medical Systems
What happens when a team of five information specialists supporting 100 engineering authors, who write content in Microsoft Word for a worldwide audience of 3500 service technicians in a regulated industry, try to implement DITA?  As any service person understands – you adapt – and use templates!

Varian Service is using bookmap and topic templates to solve many unique issues. Our authors are used to Word templates, so it makes sense to mimic that for simplicity in training and transition. Templates provide a built-in structure and allow customization of the user experience.

Hear from Catherine and Rich from Varian Medical Systems, the world leader in radiation oncology treatments and software, as they expose their experiences with templates in DITA. Rich’s team is in the process of transitioning from an unstructured Word authoring environment to DITA. While he and his team have not fully implemented DITA, Rich is ready to share his experiences as the struggle continues!

View recording (registration required)

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WEBINAR | Overcoming the Barriers — Getting Collaboration to Work
Presented by Dr. JoAnn Hackos, Comtech President and Director of the CIDM

Broadcast: Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dr JoAnn Hackos, Comtech President and Director of the CIDM

Do you believe that you could be more successful in getting customers the information they need if you could get the content providers in their organizations to collaborate? As soon as you begin to broach the idea of collaboration, do you run into barriers? For example, when your team is tasked with developing solutions-oriented content, do you have a hard time finding anyone who knows what the solutions are? Do you have colleagues in other organizations who hoard their content and refuse to work together to develop a coherent strategy?

In this webinar, learn about the most common barriers to collaboration and how to identify them in your organization. Most importantly, learn from Dr. JoAnn Hackos how you can work to overcome them.

View recording (registration required)

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Extending DITA beyond Tech Pubs at EMC
Presented by Patricia Burrows, Director, Information Experience at EMC Corporation 

Broadcast: Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Patricia Burrows, Director Global Information Management and Solutions Technical Publications, EMC Corporation

EMC began the move to DITA in 2010 as part of the Information Liquidity initiative, forming the Global Information Management team, and opening the system to their technical writing community in 2011, with a tool chain that now supports localization, guided authoring, and multiple output types.

They had a very ambitious roadmap for migrating all of the information development communities, and then move “beyond tech pubs”.

Three years later, with the majority of the product writing teams migrated to the new infrastructure and authoring in DITA, the next logical step, then, would be to move outside the product writing teams and engage the “non-tech pubs” communities.

As with all large companies, organizational changes often trigger modifications to strategies and initiatives within those organizations, and so it has at EMC. In this presentation Pat will share how the newly formed Information Experience shared service group, which encompasses Globalization, Information Development, Standards, Tools and Processes, has given EMC an opportunity to take a fresh look at their strategy and priorities, and rethink the best way to continue moving the business of structured authoring and DITA adoption forward, and beyond traditional “Tech Pubs”.

View recording (registration required)

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Converting your content to DITA?
Presented by Les Burnham, CEO and Helen St. Denis, Conversion Services Manager | Stilo International

Broadcast: May 19, 2015

Convert content to DITA XML using Migrate

If you’re considering converting content to DITA, from source formats including unstructured FrameMaker, Word, InDesign, RoboHelp, DocBook and custom XML/SGML, then you may want to catch this recorded webinar from the Stilo DITA Knowledge Series.

At Stilo, we have helped our customers convert more than a million pages of content to DITA, using Migrate, our cloud content conversion service. Join us to consider the relative merits of traditional outsourcing and in-house approaches to conversion, and why companies including IBM, Cisco, Tibco, Intel and Atmel have instead chosen to use Migrate.

In a 30-minute demo, we show how subject matter experts and technical authors can

  • Automate the conversion of legacy content to DITA
  • Cut down on manual pre-conversion prep and clean-up tasks
  • Be in complete control of the conversion process
  • Work at their own pace
  • Reduce overall conversion costs

View slides

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The emerging model for enterprise DITA authoring
Presented by Les Burnham and Patrick Baker, Stilo International

Broadcast: March 26, 2015

DITA implementations in large organizations have typically been confined to the domain of tech docs. Unfortunately there are several barriers to the more widespread adoption of DITA, including the cost and availability of appropriate authoring tools. SMEs who make occasional content contributions don’t want to know about DITA or its complexities, or invest a lot of time and effort learning new tools.

Up until now, there has traditionally been four classic models of content authoring: free-form, form-driven, structure-driven and template-driven. All have their relative merits, but still fall short of what is required for widespread enterprise DITA adoption.

In this webinar we will introduce you to an emerging 5th model for content creation – guided DITA authoring. We will demonstrate how AuthorBridge, Stilo’s new web-based editor, can provide the best of all four classic models and more, while providing a paradigm shift in the affordability of structured content authoring.

View video recording

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Leaving proprietary solutions behind
Presented by Dr. JoAnn Hackos, Comtech President and Director of the CIDM

Broadcast: March 17, 2015

Dr. JoAnn Hackos, Comtech President and Director of the CIDM

Your organization developed a proprietary solution for handling content. Perhaps you started with DocBook or DITA and customized them extensively to meet your needs. Unfortunately, the customizations make it impossible to implement the latest version of these standards. Or, your technical experts created their own solution using SGML or XML or something really unusual.

Now, executives are questioning the expense of maintaining that proprietary solution when alternatives are readily available at reasonable cost.

In this webinar, Dr. JoAnn Hackos explored the costs involved with proprietary solutions and the reasons you may want to consider in converting to a standards-based approach.

View recording (registration required)

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Publish relevant, searchable content to the web in minutes using FrameMaker and Word with no CCMS required
Presented by Fabrice Lacroix, Antidot and Les Burnham & Patrick Baker, Stilo

Broadcast: January 27, 2015

In this first Stilo DITA Knowledge Series webinar of 2015 we were joined by Antidot, developers of Fluid Topics, a web publishing solution incorporating advanced semantic search techniques, to demonstrate how easy it is to go from static documentation, in the form of PDF files or HTML pages, to an interactive, topic-based publishing environment with minimal change to your existing workflow.

Stilo and Antidot have teamed up to deliver a new end-to-end solution for rapidly publishing technical documentation to the web – combining their respective best of breed products, the Migrate cloud DITA conversion service and the Fluid Topics web publishing solution.

The webinar demonstrated how organizations can:

  • Provide customers with relevant, searchable content, accessible across any web or mobile channel
  • Enable customers to interact with online product and support information
  • Continue to use Word and FrameMaker for everyday authoring
  • Be up and running in a matter of days

Using DITA under the hood, topics can be re-used for tailored publications, but there is no content strategy or CCMS required, no OTK, CSS or XSLT to worry about, and no XML editors involved. You don’t even need to understand DITA, but this could be a very quick win on your way to implementing a more complex CCMS-based strategy in the future.

View recording (registration required)

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Lightweight DITA and the content management ecosystem
Presented by Michael Priestley, Enterprise Content Technology Strategist and Lead DITA Architect, IBM

Broadcast: November 6, 2014

Michael Priestley IBM

Content silos are the enemy of enterprise content strategy. Content standards can break down those silo walls, but can face both technological and cultural adoption barriers. Lightweight DITA addresses both through a lightweight standard that can be implemented in familiar tools that allow integration across silos and authoring communities.

Michael’s presentation focused on one or two use cases for lightweight DITA adoption beyond technical communication, and demonstrated how the standard can be adapted to a diverse set of tools and requirements, enabling integration across the content management ecosystem.

View recording (registration required)

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Introducing AuthorBridge: extending the use of DITA across the enterprise
Presented by Les Burnham and Patrick Baker, Stilo International

Broadcast: September 16, 2014

There has been much debate of late as to the merits of using Word, or Word-like editors by occasional content contributors to author DITA.  Some observers may argue that it doesn’t make for a practical proposition, as there is inevitably a trade-off between ease of use and the support of a meaningful DITA tagset.  Others might be concerned that Word-like editors cannot be sufficiently constrained for use by the occasional contributor who has no knowledge of DITA or its complexities, while template approaches can prove to be too inflexible for use at the enterprise level.

Providing a sneak preview into upcoming product developments at Stilo, we demonstrated how the gatekeepers of enterprise content management systems can ensure that only high-quality DITA is submitted by SMEs, as they continue to use their everyday authoring tools.

View recording (registration required)

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7 reasons to consider using the DITA Learning and Training support
Presented by Amber Swope, DITA Strategies, Inc.

Broadcast: September 9, 2014

Amber Swope, DITA Strategies, Inc.

As many companies consider expanding their DITA implementations from their initial deployment to other teams, the training and education materials are often on the candidate list. However, to make the investment in a conversion to DITA for the training and education materials, there must be a clear business advantage.

With over four years of experience helping teams implement the learning and training specialization, Amber Swope has observed what motivates teams to make the move and what benefits they gain. The primary considerations are:

  1. Reuse of other DITA content in learning and education materials
  2. Ability to easily create structured, reusable learning modules
  3. Ability to establish a relationship between learning objectives and the content to which they apply
  4. Ability to support multiple delivery pipelines
  5. Ability to control question usage
  6. Ability to semantically identify learning content for custom display
  7. Ability to support custom learning structures

During this webinar, Amber as she discusses these reasons for considering the DITA learning and training specializations.

View recording (registration required)

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Want better customer experience? Try DITA.
Presented by Patrick Bosek, Co-founder Jorsek LLC/easyDITA

Broadcast: July 22, 2014

Patrick Bosek, Co-founder of Jorsek LLC/easyDITA

How quickly a question is answered is the most important aspect of customer experience when they turn to your documentation. If reducing time-to-answer is a goal for your enterprise, it’s important to understand the role of structuring and rightsizing your content. This is one of the greatest, and least talked about, benefits of DITA.

In this webinar, brought to you as part of the Stilo DITA Knowledge Series, Patrick will discuss how DITA enables a better customer search experience. The presentation will begin by examining the foundation DITA XML creates, before moving on to examine different publishing and content distribution methods based on a range of budgets and requirements, and conclude with a look at the feedback iteration process that creates a constantly improving time-to-answer and customer experience.

View recording (registration required)

View slides

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A DITA Quick Start Program
Presented by Joe Gollner, Managing Director of Gnostyx Research Inc.

Broadcast: June 24, 2014

Joe Gollner, Managing Director of Gnostyx Research Inc

The leaders of technical communication groups usually know what needs to happen. After years of postponement, their organizations need to leap into the 21st century where technical content is prepared, managed and published digitally. They also know that this is more often than not done using the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). There remain two problems however. One is that their management will need to be convinced that making investments is not only beneficial but absolutely necessary. The other is that their team of authors and suppliers are often comfortable with the way things have always been. These leaders need to deploy a number of strategies to move quickly so that both of these stakeholder groups, management and team members, jump on board.

This session will draw upon two sources to offer some practical tips for TechComm leaders who find themselves in this situation. One source is recent research that has been applied to early stage DITA projects and that has revealed interesting cultural dynamics that factor into every DITA project. The other source will be an evolving DITA implementation methodology that emphasizes rapid deployment tactics as a way to build stakeholder buy-in.

View recording*  (registration required)

* please be advised that we experienced some technical difficulties during the live recording, however, there is minimal impact on the content of the webinar.

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Managing reusable content in the product-development life cycle
Presented by Dr. JoAnn Hackos, Comtech President and Director of the CIDM

Broadcast: April 24, 2014 

Dr. JoAnn Hackos, Comtech President and Director of the CIDM

Content management, and especially content reuse, in the product-development life cycle is in its infancy. In the recent study for the Center for Information-Development Management (CIDM), information developers were asked if they were able to manage content development throughout the product life cycle. For the most part, the answer was “no.” Information development organizations using DITA to develop content for customers were no more likely to be able to use content developed during product design and specification than those not using DITA. However, everyone responding to the study believed that great opportunities existed for content development to be streamed through the life cycle.

In this presentation, Dr. JoAnn Hackos, Comtech President and Director of the CIDM, described the results of the CIDM study of content management through the product-development life cycle. She presented examples of successful reuse of XML-authored content through process automation and the use of lightweight DITA editors to encourage product developers to create content in reusable forms. She described the impediments that exist in many organizations and proposes activities to overcome those impediments.

View recording  (registration required)

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From MS Word to DITA in 30 minutes
Broadcast: March 18, 2014

For anyone in the process of converting legacy content from MS Word to DITA, or the early stages of investigating conversion options, this webinar demonstrated live how the Migrate cloud content conversion service can take you from a Word document to DITA in just 30 minutes.

You’ll learn how to make a simple DITA structure, configure basic conversion rules, witness a real-time conversion to DITA and then review the DITA output. We’ll also show you how you can refine the conversion rules using the Migrate Rules Editor to adjust the output, if required.

View recording  (registration required)

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Converting legacy content to DITA – it’s not rocket science!
Presented by Pamela Noreault, Sr. User Experience Content Specialist at ACI Worldwide

Broadcast: February 25, 2014

Pamela Noreault, ACI Worldwide

One of the perceived hurdles to implementing DITA is the seemingly painstaking process of converting your legacy content to the DITA standard. However, content conversion doesn’t have to be that difficult.

In this first webinar in the Stilo 2014 DITA Knowledge Series, Pamela Noreault from ACI Worldwide, the market leader in banking and payments software products, presented a first-hand look at how ACI has approached the issue of content conversion as an integral part of their DITA implementation project, providing insightful tips, tricks and best practices.  The aim was that you come away with a better understanding of what it takes to convert content to DITA and the realization that it really isn’t rocket science!

Benefit from Pam’s 20+ years in managing content conversion projects.

View recording (registration required)

View slides

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Missed one of last year’s DITA Knowledge Series webinars, check out the archive.

Articles

DITA and minimalism

Minimalism from a technical writing and training perspective was first investigated and proposed in the late 1970s by John Carroll and colleagues at the IBM Watson Research Center. It has since evolved and been extended by a variety of stakeholders.

The link between DITA and minimalism (the IBM connection notwithstanding) is not exactly carved in stone but the two complement each other like macaroni and cheese. The macaroni (DITA) provides the infrastructure and model that you need to support the cheese sauce (the minimalist content).

Read article

Overcoming writer resistance to DITA adoption

I could easily have titled this article “Why your writers are suddenly freaking out,” because that is exactly what happens on teams that adopt DITA—there is always some degree of writer resistance. Even the best writers experience a moment of doubt when contemplating such a complete overhaul of their writing tools and standards. The trick, as someone implementing DITA, is to manage those fears wisely, even pre-empting them when possible, so that writer resistance becomes writer acceptance.

Read article

DITA reuse and conversion together

When you are considering converting content from Word or unstructured FrameMaker (or other unstructured formats) into DITA, one of the things you want to consider before you start converting is your reuse strategy. Learn how, with a little planning and setup, combining reuse and conversion together can save you lots of time.

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What’s in a DITA file?

When you first start tackling a DITA conversion, it’s difficult to get a handle on just what comprises a single file. Is it one topic? Is it multiple topics? How long should a file be? How short can it be? We tackle these questions in this article.

Read article

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2013 Articles

Getting great DITA conversion results

Although conversion is only a small part of your DITA adoption project, it’s the part that causes even smart people to break out into hives. How does one go from a regular, flat document to a series of DITA topics and maps with the correct markup? How do you do that without losing important information? What’s the best way to do it? What tools do you use? How do you start?

Read article

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DITA and graphics: what you need to know

A DITA project is an ideal time to audit, enhance, and start managing your media assets. Like any other piece of content, your media are a valuable resource that the company can leverage. Although much of a transition to DITA concentrates on improving the quality of your content, there are also some distinct benefits to your media as well.

Read article

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I got my XML back. Now what?

If you’re new to DITA conversion projects or you’re planning on converting content soon, then you should give some thought to all the pieces that go into a successful conversion. A well thought out content strategy will help guide you through the process of conversion, but if you haven’t considered all the minutiae, this article will help fill in the blanks.

Read article

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Converting to DITA – mastering the task

Adopting DITA means you need to make a switch from document or chapter-based writing to topic-based writing. For writers being exposed to DITA for the first time, this shift in thinking and writing tends to be the hardest part of the transition.

At the core of topic-based writing is the DITA task. Master the task and you start mastering DITA content (or any topic-based content). Concepts and references are important too, but once you have mastered the task, everything else just falls into line.

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DITA conversion and metadata

One of the most overlooked aspects of DITA conversion is including metadata in your conversion project.  Metadata is a powerful tool.  Please, leverage it! (Go ahead and picture me shouting this from the rooftops.)

Your goal is to capture and transfer metadata that is important to your content and your processes. You want to do this for a few reasons:

  1. So that it’s not forgotten and left behind. “When was this content last updated and who updated it?” You don’t want the answer to be: “Who knows. We converted it last week.”
  2. So you can leverage your XML. Adding metadata to XML is like putting a steering wheel on your car—it gives you all sorts of control over it.
  3. So you don’t have to apply metadata manually after conversion, a painful and time-consuming exercise.

You can also treat your conversion project as an opportunity to introduce new metadata into your content that can really enhance its value. The moment when content is being converted to XML but is not yet loaded into a CMS is the perfect moment for adding metadata.

Part of your overall content strategy should include a section on metadata strategy, where you plan what kinds of information you want to capture (or introduce) and how you will do so.

Read article

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Migrating to DITA – Best practices for authors to consider before converting legacy content

When first making the move to DITA, there are some very important best practices that authors should consider before converting their legacy content.

When doing any sort of conversion from one format to another, the riding principle is always GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). If your legacy content is not particularly good, then converting it to DITA will only create indifferent content in a so-so DITA markup. The result: failure.

So what authoring best practices should you consider before converting your legacy content?

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