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Re: [xml-doc] FrameMaker and XML

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  • barry@xsystems.com
    It might be good to separate what you author originally from what you want to save and retrieve. If you can create XML from your authoring tool and if the XML
    Message 1 of 7 , Feb 9, 2005
      It might be good to separate what you author originally from what you want
      to save and retrieve.
      If you can create XML from your authoring tool and if the XML is
      modularized so that you can identify the topics you want to store
      individually, you can use XSLT to break up the content when you store it.
      If you must retrieve the material as both individual modules and as the
      original document you authored, you can leave behind a master document
      with entity references or Xincludes to identify what modules it included
      before breakup and storage. Retrieving the entire document is then
      supported by opening the master document in a tool that allows you to
      follow and get the modules from where you stored them.

      We would use Arbortext's Epic for this because it is both capable of
      native XML authoring and of supporting the additional processing needed to
      create and retrieve content in a variety of ways. The one thing you
      probably want to avoid is any tool that uses a proprietary internal format
      and creates the XML on the output side. This injects a level of ambiguity
      into the process that is likely to confound you as you go.

      Regards,

      Barry

      -----------------------------------------------------------------
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      Jim Light <Jim.Light@...>
      02/08/2005 11:40 AM
      Please respond to
      xml-doc@yahoogroups.com


      To
      "'xml-doc@yahoogroups.com'" <xml-doc@yahoogroups.com>
      cc

      Subject
      [xml-doc] FrameMaker and XML







      What I want is a tool that enables me to:

      - Author thousands of structured, inter-related topics, in a series of
      large source files
      - create cross references among all the topics and source files
      - Save each topic as an individual file in a database
      - Search the database for topics using a number of different criteria
      - Display a topic in a web browser
      - Click on links to related topics

      We already use FrameMaker, and structured FrameMaker helps us enforce a
      degree of consistency among the authors. We need to put individual topics
      in
      a database, so generating XML would seem like a promising way to help with
      identification, storage, retrieval, and display.

      FrameMaker can certainly save my file as XML but I need to retrieve
      individual topics. Retrieving the whole file and showing a bookmarked
      location is not appropriate for this situation. I need to break the XML up
      into separate topics and add anchor tags for cross references among them.
      FrameMaker cannot do that.

      WebWorks Publisher can transform my FrameMaker file into an XML file with
      a
      CSS file for formatting or it can generate individual XHTML (and CSS)
      files
      with cross-references, but no XML. But it cannot do both. The need for
      individual topics and cross references is critical.

      Basically we had to abandon XML as a way to identify stuff because of the
      restrictions it imposes. (Writing a program to do what we need is not an
      option for us.) So now we generate separate topics in XHTML using WebWorks
      and use other methods besides XML to identify and store the topics. We
      just
      gave up on identifying any internal elements.

      We have looked at XMLSpy, and XSL Maker. Neither can handle what we need.

      If XML ever becomes a means for helping us do what we need to do then I'll
      use it, but I'll have to wait for a tool that we can pass out to all the
      technical writers. I suppose if enough people ever need to do what I have
      described, and XML is a way to do it, then a tool will emerge.

      Suggestions are welcome.
      Thanks

      Jim Light

      __________________________________
      Jim Light
      Information Development
      NetIQ Corp.
      3553 N. First St.
      San Jose, Ca 95134
      (408) 856-1883



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    • joerg_2712
      Hi Jim ... series of ... criteria ... we had a similar task. Large documents originally from Word and now as large XML files are present (conversion from Word
      Message 2 of 7 , Feb 9, 2005
        Hi Jim
        > - Author thousands of structured, inter-related topics, in a
        series of
        > large source files
        > - create cross references among all the topics and source files
        > - Save each topic as an individual file in a database
        > - Search the database for topics using a number of different
        criteria
        > - Display a topic in a web browser
        > - Click on links to related topics

        we had a similar task.
        Large documents originally from Word and now as large XML files are
        present (conversion from Word to XML via Schema MarkupKit
        (www.schema.de).

        Our procedure:
        1. Transformation to DITA via XSLT
        2. Split the DITA file in DITA Topics
        3. Save the DITA Topics in a data base (MySQL)

        DITA as a topic-oriented architectur is a suitable basis for this
        concept. We realized the validation, the splitting and executing of
        the XSLT scripts as a small TCL-programm with GUI.
        Related links are correctly transformed, the individual DITA Topics
        are stored in XML-files. The file names correspond to the topic-ids.
        The topic-ids are assigned automatically as ascending numbers.
        Incrementation and offset are configurable.
        The splitting programm generates a topic-list which represent the
        structure of the source file. Other scripts creates image-lists and
        reports for debugging.
        We can edit or create (in the near future directly from the data base)
        such own topic-lists (DITA map files). On this basis we export the
        topics from the database and produce a large DITA output file
        (document).
        Now it's time for XSLTs to generate pdf (via FOP), as well as XHTML
        and HTML Help.

        Our problem now: XML-editing on topic level, for example when small
        changes are necessary. We realized a small text-editor in the GUI oft
        the splitting programm, but this is only a quick and dirty solution.
        We prefer open source tools. Editors like XMETAL or Adept are no real
        alternatives.
        Editing in the XML code is not a large problem for specialists, but
        very difficult and stressfull for "normal people".

        Bye

        Joerg

        --------------------------------
        Joerg Ferlein
        Technical documentation, www.infodok.de
        Ringstrasse 69, 73666 Baltmannsweiler
        Germany
      • Ambot Sakoy
        Melanie is right but she left out one thing. . . be sure to have a lot of extra cash laying around to fly in vendor consultants to discuss your solution with
        Message 3 of 7 , Feb 9, 2005
          Melanie is right but she left out one thing. . .

          be sure to have a lot of extra cash laying around to fly in vendor
          consultants to discuss your "solution" with you before signing your
          company up for a costly support contract and expert design and
          implementation contractors.

          Both systems she mentioned, regardless of the vendor, are far from
          "anyone step up," trivial, turnkey undertakings for most.

          Also, be prepared for your company's "sticker shock" reaction at these
          "free" XML tools. I don't care to count how often that is given as a
          "reason" for turning to XML.

          Tim
        • Larry Kollar
          ... up ... them. ... Sounds like you might want an XML database. (Yes, despite my rant about how things have piled up around a simple standard, some people
          Message 4 of 7 , Feb 10, 2005
            > FrameMaker can certainly save my file as XML but I need to retrieve
            > individual topics. Retrieving the whole file and showing a bookmarked
            > location is not appropriate for this situation. I need to break the XML
            up
            > into separate topics and add anchor tags for cross references among
            them.
            > FrameMaker cannot do that.

            Sounds like you might want an XML database. (Yes, despite my rant
            about how things have piled up around a simple standard, some people
            need some of these things or they wouldn't get created. It's just a
            matter of figuring out what pieces you need & which to ignore.)

            Anyway. Storing your topics in a database like Apache Xindice might
            give you what you want -- the ability to keep related topics in a
            single file for editing purposes & retrieve just one of them when
            necessary.

            http://xml.apache.org/xindice/

            --
            Larry Kollar, Senior Technical Writer, ARRIS
            "Content creators are the engine that drives
            value in the information life cycle."
            -- Barry Schaeffer, on XML-Doc
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