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.



What is DITA and Why Should You Care?

Many of today’s instructional developers face a significant dilemma. Learners have minimal time to comprehend and effectively use complex products and systems. To drive time-efficient learning experiences, developers must provide high-quality training content, customized to specific learner roles and delivered in a timely manner. At the same time, many instructional development budgets are shrinking. In short, learners have less time and money to learn what they need to know, and developers have less time and money to deliver what those learners need. One way developers can address this dilemma is to become more efficient at reusing content. For many developers, the best way to achieve that efficiency will be the Learning and Training Content Specialization, soon to be released in version 1.2 of the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) standard.

Benz, Christopher J. Your Writing Dept Blog (2010). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


What is Dynamic Publishing?

We define dynamic publishing as: The automated assembly of customized documents with graphic-rich layouts for multiple mediums, including print, the Web, mobile and electronic devices. Dynamic publishing allows organizations to deliver accurate, relevant, and high-fidelity communications across multiple types of media faster and at a lower cost.

Duhl, Joshua. Dynamic Publisher, The (2008). Articles>Document Design>Personalization>XML


What is Intelligent Content? And Why Won’t Scott Abel Shut Up About It?

Intelligent content is content which is not limited to one purpose, technology or output. It’s content that is structurally rich and semantically aware, and is therefore discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable and adaptable. It’s content that helps you and your customers get the job done, often automatically.

Abel, Scott. Content Wrangler, The (2009). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>XML


What Is RDF?

RDF was originally created in 1999 as a standard on top of XML for encoding metadata--literally, data about data. Metadata is, of course, things like who authored a web page, what date a blog entry was published, etc., information that is in some sense secondary to some other content already on the regular web. Since then, and perhaps especially after the updated RDF spec in 2004, the scope of RDF has really evolved into something greater. The most exciting uses of RDF aren't in encoding information about web resources, but information about and relations between things in the real world: people, places, concepts, etc.

Tauberer, Joshua. XML.com (2006). Articles>Information Design>XML>Metadata


What is: XPATH

XPath is a way of pulling out particular data from an XML document. It is used by XSL to determine what should be output in your documents. It is essentially a systematic way of defining an address of each piece of data.

Tech Write Tips (2006). Articles>Information Design>XML>XSL


What the Hell is XML?

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is the Eurodollar of web development. Both XML and the Euro bring order to chaos; both offer undeniable, wide-ranging benefits; both are poised, in 2002, to change the way we do things. Frankly, both scare the crap out of people. For web developers, 2002 is a time to conquer fears and take their first hands-on approach to XML. It's time to examine XML and realize the practical benefits that it can provide to web projects today. The bankers can fend for themselves.

Janisch, Troy. List Apart, A (2002). Design>Web Design>Information Design>XML


What They're Saying About CMS and XML

Assuming the tools are now within the range of an average small to medium business and all the other costs associated with implementation are still there, what incentive is there for a business to want to change to CMS or XML?

Stuhlemmer, Barbara. ClearComm Information Design (2007). Articles>Content Management>XML


What You Need to Know About Whitespace in XML

Learn about the concept of XML whitespace, and gets tips for avoiding problems associated with it.

Wang, Jinyu. Oracle (2006). Articles>Information Design>XML


The What, Why, How, and Where of DITA   (PDF)

Is DITA right for your organization? This article provides a starting point for your own research on DITA.

Steiner, Rob. Intercom (2007). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


What's the Diff? Diff XML Documents

If you are handling many XML documents, sometimes you need to check the differences between two or more documents. You can perform diffs of XML documents with online and command-line tools.

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


When is XML the Wrong Answer?   (PDF)

XML-based publishing challenges authors to convert from the familiar desktop-publishing routine to new tools. This article explains what you should consider when deciding whether to implement XML.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Intercom (2007). Articles>Information Design>XML


Where I Stand on the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA)

DITA provides the ability to chunk information, to deliver selected topics in a variety of compilations and output to various formats. It allows the passing back and forth of this content among authors regardless of tools. My hesitation with DITA has only been that it’s too early to adopt. But I believe the turning point has come.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2009). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


Who Says You Can't Use Microsoft Word To Do XML?

Although MS Word can generate XML, it should not be considered any kind of a robust XML authoring tool. Instead, its XML features are best for use with other Microsoft Office applications. However, because XML authoring is gaining in popularity, new XML authoring software tools and utilities are coming to market. In this article, Scott Abel looks at using MS Word for XML and takes a closer look at one alternative XML solution from a Microsoft partner that uses Word's familiar interface.

Abel, Scott. Writing Assistance (2006). Articles>Word Processing>XML>Microsoft Word


Who Says You Can't Use Microsoft Word To Do XML?

MS Word is not an XML authoring tool, no matter what your IT team believes. While Word may indeed understand and use some XML, it doesn't use XML in the way technical communicators need it to. Instead, it uses XML to transfer information back and forth between MS Office products. Useful? Yes. XML authoring? Not even close.

Abel, Scott. TechCom Manager (2007). Articles>Writing>XML>Microsoft Word


The Why and How of XML Data Islands

This article explains a useful way to embed data in an HTML document, and store it on the client, using XML. With XML becoming ever more pervasive and the client side implementation gaining a lot of ground, you will probably find yourself using this technique in many projects.

Krishnaswamy, Jayaram. Dev Articles (2006). Design>Web Design>Information Design>XML


Why Developers Will Never Adopt DITA

DITA allows you to re-use text, apply attributes, and process your content into more than just HTML. But if you’re just publishing to the web, and you don’t have a lot of complex re-use requirements, isn’t it just extra work adding all of these DITA tags?

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2014). Articles>Documentation>XML>DITA


Why Do Publishers Need XML?

Part one in a series exploring the state of e-book publishing today. Today’s installment is one of several by New York editor Roger Sperberg about the publishing’s failure to use XML markup as the base for creating an electronic future for the book industry.

Sperberg, Roger. TeleRead (2010). Articles>Publishing>XML>eBooks


Why the Future of Documentation Belongs to Extended Markup Language?

XML, that is, Extended Markup Language, is the future of technical writing. There are TWO important reasons why that is so: XML is at the heart of “single sourcing” movement; and XML is a documentation manager’s dream since writing once and publishing many times drops unit production costs tremendously.

Akinci, Ugur. Technical Communication Center (2009). Articles>Documentation>XML>Planning


Why You Should Include an XML Declaration

Although XML declarations are optional, every XML document should have one. An XML declaration helps both human users and automated software identify the document as XML. It identifies the version of XML in use, specifies the character encoding, and can even help optimize the parsing. Most importantly, it's a crucial clue that what you're reading is in fact an XML document in environments where file type information is unavailable or unreliable.

Harold, Elliotte Rusty. InformIT (2004). Articles>Information Design>XML


Wikis, Docs, and the Reuse Proposition

The Darwin Informaton Typing Architecture (DITA) is an XML-based document format that was designed from the ground up for reuse. It rocks. Content Managment Systms (CMSes) are designed to hold XML data. So in theory, a CMS system that lets you edit like a Wiki would be everything you need. But getting a system like that to work is a pretty tricky proposition.

Armstrong, Eric. Sun Microsystems (2007). Articles>Content Management>XML>DITA


The Wisdom of Crowds Meets the Wisdom of Authors: How XML Enables the Semantic Web

Combining semantic markup with a granular authoring approach like DITA holds a lot of promise for content creators and consumers alike. Content becomes easy to define and even easier to discover. The combination also holds a lot of promise for the future of the Semantic Web itself. In fact, creating the Semantic Web might be as easy as authoring content in DITA.

Wlodarczyk, Paul. XML.org (2008). Articles>Information Design>Web Design>XML


The Wisdom of Crowds Meets the Wisdom of Authors: How XML Enables the Semantic Web

Key to the Semantic Web is semantic markup, which lets users annotate their web pages with metadata -- HTML attributes that don't get displayed in the document. Semantic metadata describes what the pages are about, letting authors define things with authority and precision.

Wlodarczyk, Paul. Content Wrangler, The (2008). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>XML


Woes of Conditional Text and Topichead Elements (DITA Best Practices)

When authoring in DITA, there are a couple of best (or worst) practices that I wasn’t aware of. The first is with conditional text; the second is with topichead elements.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2014). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


Word and OpenOffice for XML Authoring

In this session, three panellists and audience members will discuss creating XML documents using two familiar word processors: Microsoft Word and OpenOffice. Paul Bernard will introduce some real-world examples of how publishers are using Microsoft Word in XML workflows, and how Office 2007 and OpenXML will affect those processes. Jon Parsons will discuss XML, Office 2007, and content management for document integration in the middle tier. Lisa Richards will discuss XML authoring in OpenOffice.

Hatter, Clyde, Mark Jacobson and Jon Parsons. XML 2006 (2006). Articles>Word Processing>Information Design>XML


Working XML: Use Eclipse to build a user interface for XM

Anyone familiar with XM -- the low-cost, open-source content management solution based on XSLT -- knows that for all its good points, it still lacks a decent user interface. In this article, columnist Benoï¿t Marchal uses the Eclipse platform's open universal framework to build a user interface for XM.

Marchal, Benoit. IBM (2002). Design>User Interface>Software>XML



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