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Re: [xml-doc] Any hard data on use of particular DTDs/schemas?

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  • melanie.kendell
    Not results from a survey (you could always put one together for this group using the Yahoo tools) but my own experience. I am part of a technical
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 16, 2004
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      Not results from a survey (you could always put one together for this group using the Yahoo tools) but my own experience.

      I am part of a technical documentation group and, after convincing the management that we needed XML-based content management, I was asked to implement it (yikes!). I quickly realised that success or failure would revolve around having the right schema.

      As we were starting from scratch I wanted to use a "standard" schema so that we could leverage off existing work (XSLTs, etc).

      I looked at DocBook but found it too restrictive - we will be doing some fairly complex customised publications so I needed to add plenty of our own elements and attributes to query on and it seemed this was not allowed without breaking the "standard".

      I then looked at DITA and this seems to be a more flexible architecture that could well be suited to our needs but is more complex to learn.

      Meantime, it became clear that this was all going to take a long time and we could not afford to have documents that were out of circulation for that long, so I decided to take the halfway step of using structured FrameMaker as our authoring and publishing environment. That meant that the XSL issues became less important.

      Our pilot project is a catalogue - a document that has a very defined structure with very few elements - and is a prime candidate for having its own custom schema which is now done and seems to be working well.

      So for our main projects:
      * given that our reason to adhere to a standard was largely removed by using FrameMaker
      * and we have some very specific things we want to achieve in the way of custom publications
      * and rolling our own for the pilot was not as difficult as I thought it might be -
      I decided it was just as easy to roll our own for them too but with an eye on the DITA schema so that it could be easily transformed at a later date if that became desirable.

      My gut feel is that schemas brought in from outside the technical documentation group will tend to be standards-based (particularly DocBook) but if the technical documenters themselves are asked to investigate schemas they are more likely to roll their own as they know the content architecture and will find it easier to create a schema that fits their content than to try to fit their content to a standard schema (DITA may bridge the gap between the two approaches).

      Mind you, not all technical documentation groups are created equal and where the writing is not inherently structured applying a standard (particularly DITA with its categorisation of different types of topic) can improve the content architecture no end.

      My 2c worth

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Nancy Hildebrandt <nancyhild@...>
      Date: Thursday, September 16, 2004 10:08 am
      Subject: [xml-doc] Any hard data on use of particular DTDs/schemas?

      > I'm wondering if anyone has done any kind of survey as to what
      > DTDs
      > or schemas are used by technical documentation groups who author
      > in
      > XML. Out of the box DocBook (including a proper subset)? DITA? A
      > customized version of either of these? Something homegrown?
      > I've searched through the archives and have some anecdotal
      > evidence, but it would be so interesting to have some hard data.
      > thanks,
      > nancy
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
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