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  • By Mark Lewis
    Sep 26, 2010
    "DITA 101 Review: 1st edition" This book answers the ultimate question. Is DITA right for you? And if so, how do you make the move to DITA. Though the book is intended for beginners getting up to speed on DITA, it is full of valuable nuggets for DITA intermediates and experts because of the scope that is covered. When I started reviewing this book, I dove into the table of contents, drilled into the “Planning for DITA” chapter and found the "Roles and responsibilities” chapter. Now I am really getting excited, but at the time, I didn't know exactly why. Well, learning the details and syntax of the DITA language is not enough. There are many other parts to the puzzle of creating documentation using the DITA methodology. This book helps you make the transition from authoring long narrative monolithic documents to topic and component-based collaborative authoring. This book shows you how to analyze the content that you already have and determine if and how it maps to DITA.... More > “DITA 101” discusses the new and modified roles and processes needed in a collaborative authoring environment. Now you can look at your current processes and compare them to the new processes so that you, your content and your team can make the transition. Remember, it not just about the content. It's also about the people. I think the book is appropriately titled, “DITA 101”. Coming in from the 50,000 foot view point, this book offers the big picture and the right amount of information about each aspect of the big picture: content structure, processes, ROI, roles and responsibilities. From this, you will be able to determine for yourself, should you make the move to DITA, and if so, how. “DITA 101” is a blending of what you need to know to get started in DITA and the Rockley Group's proven Unified Content Strategy. Given that DITA was designed around best practices for technical publications, that makes this book a combination of two best practices rolled into one. > Mark Lewis > author “DITA Metrics”< Less
  • By stephenmatlock
    Aug 22, 2009
    "A good start" This is a good starting point for seeing what DITA can do. I downloaded the PDF version for convenience, as I can copy content or ideas directly. A few notes * The PDF download doesn't include a title page / bookcover. This is odd, and it means that I can't "see" the book on my PC when I view my document folder in the Icon or Thumbnail book--it's just a blank page. * This was written by three people. Sometimes this becomes apparent. I'd like to see it re-edited for consistency. Sometimes double-quotes are used for "special words" and sometimes single-quotes. That's odd for a document about how to write documentation--I'd expect a bit more attention to detail. There are also odd lapses in copy-editing. For example, "Everyone feels that their customer, content requirements are different so it has to be rewritten." I have no idea what this means. And there are variables with punctuation (inside/outside quotation marks),... More > spelling/syntax/capitalization, font/formatting for structure (sometimes bold used for headings sometimes italic), and tone (jocular to very technical). A good copy-edit should fix this. * The illustrations on p. 34 & p. 38 are mangled. I can't read them. * The "real world examples" don't contain references. If I want to sell this to my manager, I have to have data.What companies? When? * I'm not always clear on how Lulu works, but it would be fabulous for an e-book if the intra-book references were clickable--that is, if something says "see page 40," then the link should be clickable & take me to page 40. Again, maybe Lulu's PDFs don't allow this. * I'd really like to see more about how to build content. Not an exhaustive list, but something along the lines of "here is a simple documentation task that includes tasks, concepts, and references. Here is what it looks like." That might take a few pages of code given the form-factor of this book, but for someone who wants to get his feet wet, it would be a great way to get started. (I don't want to be overwhelmed with every possible variation, but a simple document should be do-able.) All in all, a good first start. This book should be revised and republished if only to correct the mistakes.< Less
  • By Sean Ercanbrack
    Aug 19, 2009
    "Abridged review" Due to character limitations, I must abridge my review. To see the whole review, see: ...The next section, “A day in the life of a DITA author,” was really interesting. It describes approaches to planning and developing content in DITA. I liked this, because it gave me an idea of how I would go about using DITA as a content author. It focuses on using maps as an outlining tool, offering guidelines to help determine how to most effectively write topics, and writing structured content. “Planning for DITA,” the next section of the book, breaks new ground—I haven't seen much written on this topic. This section is for managers and decision makers. It covers the roles and responsibilities of those involved in company-wide DITA implementation. For example, a typical setting would include the following: a content coordinator, an information architect, a DITA technologist, authors, content owners, and... More > editors. I found this useful for getting the big picture of how everything goes together in the DITA process. The most interesting section of the whole book, is, “Metadata.” Like the previous section, I have not seen this written about anywhere else, and it breaks new and very important ground. It is so surprising that it is not talked about more, because it is such a critical element of the whole process. It's what makes “'intelligent content' intelligent.” Metadata are keywords that are added to documents that allow them to be found by content management software. It helps with topic and component reuse, by making it possible to find information based on those keywords. I was really pleased with this chapter! The second to the final section of the book, “DITA and Technology,” discusses what to look for in good DITA tools such as: authoring tools, CCMS tools, etc. Like everything else in this book, I found it very useful. The final section, “The 'advanced' stuff,” goes lightly over advanced topics such as domains, conrefs, selection attributes (conditional content), relationship tables, and specialization. Most of this is content suitable for a more advanced book, and not as essential for authors and managers trying to learn the fundamentals of DITA. These topics are explained to assist the reader with understanding what they are and why they are used, without going into depth. Included with the book are three useful appendix sections: “DITA topic quick reference,” “Prolong Metadata,” and “What is XML?” These sections are for those who what to understand the actual tagging and formatting that goes into coding in DITA. I found it especially useful in understanding how DITA actually works at a lower level. I do want to note that there is not much actual code listed in the book. I would have liked to see more, but the authors argue that, with the existing technology, it is no longer as important to know the XML tagging that is involved. This is because there are many WYSIWYG applications that make DITA usage nearly as easy as using a word processor. That is good to know, and I'll accept that. Overall, I am extremely pleased with this book! If they put out an intermediate level book, covering “The 'advanced' stuff” in more detail, I would definitely consider adding it to my library. For what is explained and taught, I think it is well worth the price, and the material is perfect for the target audience. Strangely enough, I can't find much to complain about in the book (I usually find something that I don't like in books that I read). The writing is conversational and informed. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who is interested in learning the fundamentals of DITA.< Less
  • By Richard Hamilton
    Jul 7, 2009
    "An excellent primer on DITA" DITA 101 is an excellent primer on DITA and I recommend it for authors and managers who want to understand what DITA is all about or need information to evaluate whether DITA is the right solution for them. This book covers the basics, including the philosophy behind DITA, modular writing with topics and maps, writing for reuse, and metadata. It also gives an overview of more advanced topics, including domains, conrefs, conditional content, relationship tables, and specialization. Bottom line: well worth reading if you're thinking of using DITA or are getting started with it. Full review at: DITA 101 Review
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Product Details

The Rockley Group, Inc.
November 24, 2010
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.61 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
Product ID
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