A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is an open, general-purpose specification for creating markup languages. Its primary purpose is to help information systems share structured data, particularly via the Internet, and it is used both to encode documents and to serialize data. It is used in a wide variety of technical communication document formats, including Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, XHTML, DITA, DocBook, and RSS, among others.



Pretty-Print XML Using a Generic Identity Stylesheet and Xalan

Sometimes your XML output from various programs is less than attractive. Spruce it up in a hurry with Xalan C++ and an identity transform.

O'Reilly and Associates (2005). Articles>Information Design>Style Sheets>XML


The Problem of Ingesting and Delivering Complex Objects from Digital Repositories   (PDF)

The recent emergence of online digital archives has brought educators a major step closer to bringing original, reusable digital objects into undergraduate classrooms. Yet having to search multiple archives through mind-numbing search-and-browse routines can make it extremely difficult for educators to use the repositories successfully in their curriculum. What educators need is a suite of tools that allow them to reduce the search for relevance, expand the metadata with user-specific annotation, and tie the digital libraries' content directly to course materials. The keys to creating these resources are to build distributed networks of users and repositories. Cost containment often severely limits the amount of descriptive metadata that can be catalogued. Students and instructors create topical annotated bibliographies or lists of media clips (or segments of media clips) and 'publish' these for class, work group, or more general use. Allowing teachers and students to annotate and segment media as well as build their own galleries greatly enhance the educational value of digital objects by augmenting the minimal descriptive metadata and facilitating the building of complex digital objects tailored to the needs of specific education standards and curricula. The project uses a METS XML schema that provides an encoding format for administrative, descriptive, and structural metadata that is fully compliant with OAIS, and open source applications to facilitate ingestion and delivery (as well as help to control costs).

Kornbluh, Mark, Jerry Goldman and Dean Rehberger. Michigan State University (2005). Articles>Information Design>Metadata>XML


Processing the Output Buffer with XSLT

This article shows an example of a technique mentioned in one of our recent articles. It uses the PHP output buffer in combination with XML as intermediate application layer. Ideally you should familiarize yourself with this concept first.

Opitz, Pascal. Content With Style (2005). Design>Web Design>XML>XSL


Producing Documentation and Reusing Information in XML, Part 3: Creating Multi-Target XML Documents

XML is an optimal format for writing documentation that you can use with many different documentation software packages and production environments. In this third article in the series, discover how to create single-source documents that can produce output in a variety of different output formats.

von Hagen, William. IBM (2009). Articles>Documentation>XML>DocBook


Programming Web Services with SOAP

The task of creating and deploying web services is really not all that difficult, nor is it all that different than what developers currently do in more traditional web applications. The tendency on all platforms is to automate more and more of the gory details and tedious work in creating web services. Most programmers don't need to know the exact details of encodings and envelopes; instead, they'll simply use a SOAP toolkit such as those described here.

Snell, James, Doug Tidwell and Pavel Kulchenko. O'Reilly and Associates (2001). Design>Web Design>Programming>XML


Providing Options in RELAX NG

XML schemas don't have to be rigid. Sometimes, it's best to provide flexibility and allow the author of XML documents to make choices. In this second part of a three-part article, we'll make some modifications to the schema we created in the first part, and learn how to make some things optional.

McCullough, Peyton. Dev Articles (2008). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>XML


Publishing DITA Without the DITA Open Toolkit: A Trend or a Temporary Detour?

I'm starting to wonder whether the adoption rate of DITA and the DITA Open Toolkit is going to diverge. Widespread adoption of DITA leads to a a sort of herd effect with safety in numbers. Not so for the Open Toolkit.

Scriptorium (2008). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


Publishing XML Content with XSL   (PDF)   (members only)

How do you convert your application-neutral, vendor-neutral, unformatted XML content into paginated content (such as PDF) or HTML? O'Keefe introduces one solution: the Extensible Stylesheet Language, a programming language for processing XML.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Intercom (2008). Articles>Information Design>XML>XSL


Push, Pull, Next!

In a recent weblog post, XML.com's "Python and XML" columnist Uche Ogbuji provided a nice collection of links to discussions about the push vs. pull styles of XSLT stylesheet development. What do we mean by "push" and "pull"? As a short example of each, let's look at two approaches to converting the following DocBook document to XHTML.

DuCharme, Bob. XML.com (2005). Articles>Information Design>XML>XSL


Python and XML

Python and XML are two very different animals, each with a rich history. Python is a full-scale programming language that has grown from scripting world roots in a very organic way, through the vision and guidance of Python's inventor, Guido van Rossum. Guido continues to take into account the needs of Python developers as Python matures. XML, on the other hand, though strongly impacted by the ideas of a small cadre of visionaries, has grown from standards-committee roots. It has seen both quiet adoption and wrenching battles over its future. Why bother putting the two technologies together?

Jones, Christopher A. and Fred L. Drake. O'Reilly and Associates (2001). Articles>Information Design>Programming>XML


Querying XML Data With XQuery

The idea behind that quote is that XQuery is like a jacked up version of XPath with a little XSLT sprinkled in for good measure. In other words, XQuery is a technology that packs some punch when it comes to drilling deep into XML data and extracting exactly the data in which you're interested. This tutorial introduces you to XQuery and shows you some practical ways to put the language to use with your own XML code.

BrainBell (2007). Articles>Information Design>XML>XSL


Quick and Rude Guide to DITA

DITA is an architecture. It is a collection of design principles that: is inclined heavily towards self-sufficient information modules; lets its basics to be inherited into derived classes; borrows its tags from HTML and XHTML.

Writing Technically (2010). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


Quick and Rude Guide to DITA - Part 2 of 3

In Part 1 of this series, I said DITA was about chunks and tags, and asked you to look at this user guide. My aim was to get you thinking in terms of topic types ("Hey, this table is a reference, what's it doing in the middle of a task topic"). In this post, I'll talk of writing your first DITA topic.

Writing Technically (2010). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA



The W3C’s XHTML language is intended to bridge the web’s past (HTML) and future (XML). Shall we cross this bridge, now that we’ve come to it? Or is XHTML more trouble than it’s worth? Peter-Paul Koch puts forth the pros and cons.

Koch, Peter-Paul. List Apart, A (2000). Design>Web Design>XML>XHTML


The RDF.net Challenge

Some general notes on RDF, its history and prospects, and a Grand Challenge to the RDF community.

Bray, Tim. Aaron Swartz Weblog (2008). Articles>Information Design>XML>RSS


Reading XML with jQuery

How to use the common jQuery JavaScript library to parse XML data sources, and to integrate them into your pages.

Harbour, Jared. Think2Loud (2008). Articles>Web Design>XML>JavaScript


Records, Tags and Pipelines

Serving XML is a markup language for expressing XML pipelines, and an extendible Java framework for defining the elements of the language. It provides a markup language for expressing flat-XML, XML-flat, flat-flat, and XML-XML transformations in pipelines. This article provides a brief introduction to the vocabulary of this language, and some examples of its flat-XML capabilities.

Parker, Daniel. IDEAlliance (2005). Articles>Information Design>XML>Workflow


Reimagining the Book Publishing World With XML

In order to profit--literally--from the new digital markets, publishers must rethink the way they create, manage, publish, and deliver content. They must re-engineer their processes to create more flexibility and guarantee a sustainable and certain future. They must re-imagine a production process that frees their content to be transformed--on-demand--into whatever new formats, devices, and uses consumers require, now and for the future.

Ganesan, Dev. Content Wrangler, The (2010). Articles>Publishing>Information Design>XML



RELAX NG is a simple schema language for XML, based on RELAX and TREX. A RELAX NG schema specifies a pattern for the structure and content of an XML document. A RELAX NG schema thus identifies a class of XML documents consisting of those documents that match the pattern. A RELAX NG schema is itself an XML document.

RELAX NG (1997). Articles>Information Design>Standards>XML


RELAX NG: Complex Patterns   (PDF)

One of the key differentiations between compositors and simple patterns is that compositors are patterns that don’t directly map to any individual element withinthe schema. I emphasize this distinction because it can be easy to forget when focusing on a schema instead of the instance document.

van der Vlist, Eric. O'Reilly and Associates (2003). Articles>Information Design>XML


Release of Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange (SDMX) Standards Version 1.0

From a business perspective, SDMX offers governmental and other organizations a standard for modelling and exchanging aggregated statistical data which is not domain-specific, and which supports the use of existing metadata vocabularies for statistical concepts. Formats are primarily designed around time-series views of data, but cross-sectional views are also supported. Several large-scale implementations are already planned.

Gregory, Arofan. IDEAlliance (2004). Articles>Information Design>Statistics>XML


Reporting XML Errors: Optimizing the Workflow

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an XML-based, end-to-end architecture for authoring, producing, and delivering technical information. This paper describes how DITA-based documentation was implemented at CEDROM-SNi, one of Canada's leading on-line news content aggregators. The project delivers documentation as diverse as user training materials and Web Services reference guides targeted to programmers. We focus on the benefits, how tos, and lessons learned. Technical documentation has its own unique challenges. Its deliverables range from simple reference guides and educational material to complex, multilingual procedure manuals. Critical success factors of a documentation project are numerous and diverse – usability, deadlines, cost, language, delivery media (paper, online) – all of which have their own purpose and challenges. This paper discusses these issues and provides a framework for future DITA projects.

Allen, Sarah. IDEAlliance (2004). Articles>Content Management>Workflow>XML


Resistance is Futile: You Will Store XML

Industry standards consortia have defined thousands of exchange formats for business related messages in XML Increasingly, data conforming to industry exchange formats are being stored in files and database systems as XML (as well being mapped to relational data). This talk describes what happens when the exchange formats and the storage formats become one. Business applications can be built in new ways that can reduce development costs and more readily accommodate evolving business requirements. The use of generic tools rather than bespoke software becomes more attractive. The criteria for managing XML schemas and for XML schema evolution change. The talk will outline trends arising from the unification of storage formats and exchange formats. It will incorporate a case study to illustrate the main points.

Malaika, Susan. XML 2006 (2006). Articles>Information Design>XML>Case Studies


Resource Description Framework (RDF)

The Resource Description Framework (RDF) integrates a variety of applications from library catalogs and world-wide directories to syndication and aggregation of news, software, and content to personal collections of music, photos, and events using XML as an interchange syntax. The RDF specifications provide a lightweight ontology system to support the exchange of knowledge on the Web.

W3C (2003). Resources>Information Design>Standards>XML


Reuse: Today's Best Practice

DITA 101: Fundamentals of DITA for Authors and Managers (2009), by Ann Rockley, Steve Manning, and Charles Cooper, explains the open XML standard “that defines a common structure for content that promotes the consistent creation, sharing, and reuse of content.” According to Scott Abel, the book is “simple, easy to understand, and loaded with practical examples.” Provides a link to a free chapter, for your review.

Rockley, Ann, Steve Manning and Charles Cooper. PegMulligan.com (2009). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA



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