Month: October 2006

Understanding The Content Management Life Cycle

CM Pros, the international content management community of practice, has announced the release of a draft poster that serves to document the various stages of the content management life cycle. The poster identifies and defines these six stages: Planning Development Management Deployment Preservation Evaluation The final poster will include be available in both print and electronic formats later this...

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User-Centered Design At A Distance

We’ve been traveling this past week in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, scouting a location for an upcoming conference for technical communication professionals with an interest in creating usable, customer-centric content. Just around the corner from our favorite boutique hotel, The Victorian, we attended the monthly meeting of the Vancouver User Expereince Group (VanUE). This month’s meeting took place Wednesday, October 25th at the Vancouver Film School and featured Paul D. Hibbitts, who spoke to a near-capacity crowd about User-Centered Design at a Distance. Kevin Shoesmith offers up a great overview of the presentation on his blog. And, Paul has provided us access to his slides...

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DocBook v4.5 Now An OASIS Standard

OASIS, the international standards consortium, announced that its members have approved DocBook version 4.5 (PDF) as an OASIS Standard, a status that signifies the highest level of ratification. Widely adopted by technical writers since its introduction in 1991, DocBook provides an XML markup vocabulary for authoring and exchange of prose content, especially technical documentation. “DocBook enables you to author and store documents in a presentation-neutral form that captures the logical structure and semantics of the content,” explained Norman Walsh of Sun Microsystems, chair of the OASIS DocBook Technical Committee. “With DocBook, you can transform and publish content in HTML, PDF, RTF, and many other formats. There have been lots of improvements, both large and small, since the last OASIS Standard version of DocBook, among them: new inline elements for finer control over content, improvements in internationalization and accessibility, support for HTML tables, more support for mathematics, and more generally available metadata.” DocBook allows authors to concentrate on the organization and meaning of their text without concern for how their final documents will appear. Presentation issues are handled separately by style sheets. DocBook’s modular organization allows the document’s metadata to be easily customized by the user. It defines a large body of tags to accommodate a wide range of applications and expectations. Learn more about approved DocBook version...

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Dispelling Collaboration Myths: Is Your “Team” An Impediment To Content Management Success?

By Emma Hamer, eHamerAssociates, Ltd., special to In conversations I’ve had recently with TechComm Managers and Content Management Consultants, as well as with individual technical communicators and instructional designers, one question keeps coming up: How are we going to cope with the changes brought on by the implementation of a content management system? The response to my question: “What changes are you worried about” varies tremendously: Enforcing the discipline of structured authoring Identifying enough reusable content to make it all worth while Repositioning our team to the other departments: less service group, more expert advisors Getting SME’s to understand how this system impacts their contributions Getting my team to collaborate at all, let alone better Although each of these points deserves an article to itself, this article will tackle the last point: collaboration – we know we need more of it, but do we even know what it looks like? And how do we get there? Is it even possible with the people we have now? And how will we know we’ve succeeded? First of all, it’s time to dispel some myths. Many of these points are held very dear by technical communicators and their managers alike, but that still doesn’t make them sustainable in a Content Management environment. They are “the old” that must go: A group of people performing similar tasks in similar circumstances does not...

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Open Microsoft Document Format To Become A Standard?

According to the sharp folks at IT Business Edge, Microsoft has “renewed its plans to submit its XML-based document format — broadly seen as a threat to Adobe’s popular PDF file type — to an open standards body for review.” What does this mean for those who use Microsoft products but need to create PDF files as deliverables? It’s too early to tell. Previously, IT Business Edge reported on a big brouhaha over Microsoft’s plan to prevent PDF export capability from Office...

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