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.
Macromedia has been the dominant force behind vector-based graphics and animation on the web for nearly the past 10 years. Times change, and new methods are always on the horizon. The upcoming contender for vector graphics is Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an XML-based language under development by the W3C.
Recent trends in XML content authoring demonstrate increasing shift towards advanced reuse patterns and multi-source compound document architectures. This imposes completely new requirements for the XML authoring tools, most of which were originally developed for narrative document authoring and architectures like Docbook or TEI. The key requirement is the ability to provide a single, transparent, directly editable view for such complex documents.
If you're a developer interested only in the data-oriented side of XML, and if you don't care about document authoring (writing books, articles, manuals, love poems, Web pages, whatever), feel free to ignore this article. If, on the other hand, document authoring is important to you (you're a technical writer, an HTML markup author, manager of a documentation group, an anonymous pamphleteer) and you're trying to decide whether it would be worthwhile for you to learn XML and use it for authoring documents, stick around. What you learn might save you a lot of time and spare you from some unnecessary frustration.
Topic Maps have figured very prominently at all recent IDEAlliance conferences, with a large number of interesting presentations on various aspects of the Topic Maps paradigm. However, at every conference there are always many people who are encountering Topic Maps for the first time. For those people, experiencing that something they have never heard of before - or don't quite get - is the "buzz of the conference" can be very frustrating. This presentation is designed to cater to the needs of such people by providing an introduction to the basic concepts of topic maps in a lively and informal manner.
Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is a sweeping revolution in technical writing and training. DITA introduces a different way of writing; a way that satisfies the ways users look for information and is therefore more usable. Additionally, authors work more efficiently by being able to easily single source and re-use content. The overall user experience is more consistent because format is completely separated from content (format is handled on publish only, not by the authors). Consider carefully, and if you choose to make the switch to DITA, it’s already time to start planning.
Technical communicators can expand their roles into the realm of knowledge management if they augment their already considerable skills with a basic understanding of XML coding and a critical understanding of how this applied tool can allow us to shape, store, and transfer knowledge. To do this, they can start by examining how the use of tools and their relationship to the materials, assumptions, and methods of the scientific community contribute to the culture of research activity and then transferring these ideas to their workplaces. Additionally, they need to understand that knowledge management systems can include tacit knowledge. In their roles as knowledge managers, they can teach organization members how they can help design, access, and contribute to databases; alert them to new information as it is made available in knowledge repositories; and work to facilitate an environment of trust and sharing that allows knowledge management systems to flourish.
The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is an open standard for creating domain- and industry-specific markup vocabularies. XML has become the predominant mechanism for electronic data interchange between information systems and can be described as a universally applicable, durable â€œCode of Integration.â€Ω As we celebrate its tenth anniversary, it is appropriate to reflect on the role XML has played and the technical ecosystem in which it functions. In this paper, we discuss both the environment from which XML arose and its technical underpinnings, and we relate these topics to companion papers in this issue of the IBM Systems Journal. We discuss the broad consequences of XML and argue that XML will take its place among the technical standards having the greatest impact on the world in which we live. We conclude with some reflections on the significant technical, economic, and societal consequences that XML is likely to have in the future.
XML is one of the hot topics in Web technology. More and more XML sites are being developed every day. You've probably seen XML without realizing it. It's also showing up in specific tools for technical writers: Sun's JavaHelp uses XML components. But when you try to learn about this exciting new technology, when you review the many books that are appearing on shelves, or sites popping up on the Web, you'll find that the information that is available is mostly aimed at developers. This session cuts through the technical detail to the core of XML, to the value that it brings to technical writers and their users. Unlike HTML, which is based on a specific set of tags, XML allows you to define your own tags. This means you have the ability to tag information based on content rather than format structure.
This top ten list is based on interviews conducted by TheContentWrangler.com with technical writers at more than 20 software companies—tech writers that are actually using DITA to create documentation today.
In this article, look at some top XML schemas that provide solutions for all sorts of problems, from the basics of Web services to data description. You'll also cover database-like solutions that involve contacts and invoices. The schemas in this article were chosen for their usefulness and utility, plus their impact on the XML community in how information is shared and exchanged using the XML format.
This document details an XML-based method of providing end-user control over the format of an online document, Web page or entire Web site. This functionality is useful in situations where users, due to preference or physical ability, require a way to personalize their view of the content. Content managers, editors, and developers are also able to work with one set of documents, eliminating the need for multiple files that contain the same information with different formatting, therefore reducing redundancy, version inconsistencies, and workload.
Materials that include ornamentation and complex design features have long been challenging to convert to XML, even by hand. The problem is two-fold: complex documents usually contain a variety of graphics, some of which may be simple ornamentation, with others actually fundamental to the subject matter. In addition, these graphics can consist of images overlaid either with text that is integral to the image content, or with actual body text. The analysis and extraction of such content into a meaningful order in the converted XML file is not currently possible via scripting conversion tools, and can be time-consuming and arduous to tag manually.
In the past few years, we have implemented both DITA-based and custom XML solutions for our customers. Given the right set of circumstances, DITA provides an excellent foundation for structured content. But I seem to be in significant disagreement with DITA advocates about how often the "right set of circumstances" is present.
Technology has changed a lot in thirteen years and so has the way that content can be created, handled and made ready for publication. But this publisher is far from being alone in sticking with old processes. My experiences working on other book projects in the last few years have just reinforced my belief that the vast majority of the traditional publishing market still works around a production system designed to do one thing – move paper.
XML-based development projects often require the development of a Document Type Definition (DTD), which defines the XML code used in an XML document or application. Even if you are customizing an existing DTD like the DocBook DTD, documenting the DTD is a best practice for a number of reasons, including:Providing documentation
Do you ever think about how much time you spend tackling process issues and tools issues? The tools, as advanced and automated as they are, will not fix all our problems. But we have to work with what we have, and automate as much of the production and maintenance of our content as possible.
For all of its upside, XML-based single-source publishing has proven to be expensive and complicated to implement. XML-based single sourcing requires significant tool development, data conversion, and system integration prior to realizing the benefits of repurposing and reuse. To mitigate this, some vertical industries have developed their own XML tag sets. While successful on their own, these vertical industry efforts have not been extensible to other industries. A new XML-based approach to information development is the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA).
A primary factor behind the enormous interest in XML is the support it provides for transforming documents to meet the needs of information-processing applications as well as human readers working with HTML, print, and other presentation media. This case study reviews the issues we confronted, the tools we implemented, and the procedures we adopted to transform a documentation set from one XML document type to another, and from XML to HTML and Adobe PDF. The documentation set for Xalan, the Apache XSL transformer based largely on code donated by Lotus/IBM, is written in XML, using document types shared by the projects on the Apache XML website. To present Xalan reference releases to IBM project groups, the Cambridge Advanced Technology Group has set up build procedures to transform the Xalan XML documentation to DITA, an extensible XML information typing architecture currently under development in IBM. After verifying that the DITA output conforms to its declared document type, the build publishes the DITA documentation set as HTML and as PDF.
Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL) is a language designed to provide presentation for the content of XML documents. It is composed of three parts: XSLT, XPath, and XSL Formatting Objects (XSL-FO). In this chapter, I'll show you XSLT and the .NET assembly that deals with it, System.Xml.Xsl. But first, some background.
Sooner or later someone will want to have your XML document translated into another language. In fact XML documents are much easier to translate than other electronic documents because they separate out form from content, and they conform to a rigorous standard and defined syntax. There are various approaches to improving the translation process.