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KMWWP Focus 4_1-4_c9 3/2/07 10:09 AM Page 1

Focus On

A CONVERSATION WITH ...


KEVIN DUFFY, XyEnterprise From Promise to Practice

Smoothing the Abstraction XML-Empowered Content


How a Component Approach Simplifies Publishing...
and Makes it Cheaper, Too!
Management and Delivery
■ By Andy Moore, Editorial Director, KMWorld Specialty Publishing Group

Thinking in abstractions gives me a headache. That’s why By Kevin Duffy,


I was never good at algebra. And THAT’s why I went into President and CEO, XyEnterprise
journalism...no math requirement.
So imagine how refreshing it is to find a plain-speaking
person who can explain one of the most abstracted of all recent For years, vendors, standards organizations and industry analysts
subjects—the automated, component-based formatting of have promoted the use of XML and component-oriented content
content for authoring and publication through the many chan- management. Despite compelling success stories and proven return
nels available today—to a literal-minded, J-school student with on investment, the rate of adoption and growth has been slower than
an abstraction problem. anticipated.
As most of you are aware, the “MLs”—XML and before that, But the market is now poised for dramatic change and growth,
SGML—are pioneering standards that add consistency and struc- based on a confluence of powerful business drivers, new technology
ture to plain text with extra information. “Element names” indicate and emerging XML standards. If you are still using traditional doc-
what kind of text is included (e.g. I am a “para” or I am a “step”). ument-based approaches to create and deliver dynamic technical or
“Attributes” are value-added information (e.g. author = “Andy commercial content, it is time to take a serious look at a new gener-
Moore”). These are just some of the “extras.” There are many more, ation of XML-based solutions and best practices.
but XML is considered pretty simple to understand and use. In fact,
software can be taught to process and format it without human What’s Old is New Again
intervention. And that’s just the beginning of our story.
My tutor is Kevin Duffy. Kevin is the president and CEO of As far back as 1990, visionary companies such as Sikorsky Aircraft
XyEnterprise, a company which can only be described as one of the put into production component-based, structured content management
earliest movers out there focused on solving the challenge of pub- and publishing systems. The goal was simple: apply the lessons learned
lishing complex content, in variable formats, to various channels, in in manufacturing complex helicopters to all the technical content that
the easiest way possible. Not an easy task. But Kevin and Co. were supports them. Think “components” not “documents.” Dynamically
thinking about it a long time before you or I ever did. assemble pertinent content against a bill of materials... share and reuse
“Twenty years ago—when there was no XML or SGML—our content across product lines and publications... reduce redundant,
first publishing product had some of the characteristics that now reiterative authoring and update cycles. Think “just-in-time” delivery
exist in some form in the prevailing standards such as XML. Called for technical information. Sikorsky demonstrated the time and cost
XPP, we applied a generic mark-up onto the text structure, which savings and quality and accuracy improvements from such an approach
divorced the formatting and presentation information from the more than 15 years ago and they continue to benefit from them today.
content,” Kevin explains. Other companies embraced this approach, but until recently it was
“This was 1983-’84, and we were already promoting that people primarily the largest and most complex environments that invested in the
move away from typesetting and proprietary mark-up and start data modeling, content management systems (CMS) and cultural and
thinking about labeling the structure of the content—a head is a process changes necessary to succeed.
head, a paragraph is a paragraph, a bulleted list is a bulleted list... We are seeing a recent and significant change, as challenges and
“Once you had this,” Kevin continues, “you could then set up complexity are now impacting mid-size and even smaller organizations.
style sheets that could automatically change from A4 (Europe’s
standard “letter” paper size) to US 8-1/2" x 11" , or from portrait to
landscape. All those kinds of nuances that define the document’s
Publish or Perish
presentation difference can be separate from the actual content.” Creating, maintaining and delivering accurate content has never been
This is one of the fundamental theories underpinning XML, and more challenging. Product and information lifecycles are increasingly
XyEnterprise was onto it 20 years ago. dynamic. Updates and revisions that were once scheduled in years now
But merely (merely!) simplifying the presentation of content is happen monthly or even weekly. Global markets require multilingual
not the entire story. “The second piece is the high level of automa- content to be delivered concurrently with English versions and, in some
tion possible,” says Kevin. “The idea is to keep human beings out cases, before the English versions. Multi-channel delivery—print,
COVERING THE CHANNELS continues on page 4 PROMISE TO PRACTICE continues on page 3

KMWorld April 2007


KMWWP Focus 4_1-4_c9 3/2/07 10:10 AM Page 2

DITA—The Emerging Standard Product Solutions for


Whose Time Has Come the Content Lifecycle
By: Mary Galoski Parsons, Director, Marketing Communications
XyEnterprise takes a standards-based
approach to creating, managing and deliv-
The Darwin Information Typing tremendous process improvements over ering content.
Architecture (better known as DITA) can traditional methods. Our technology products include:
help documentation groups automate their One manufacturer of electronic devices 1. Contenta—award-winning content man-
workflow, achieve reuse of content and chose DITA for its minimalist approach; agement software;
deliver that content through multiple deliv- DITA’s topic orientation supported and 2. XPP—the leading XML professional
ery channels. When used together with a reinforced the best practices they were publishing solution; and
content management system (CMS), DITA moving toward. They liked that DITA con- 3. ContentaView—a software suite for
provides efficient coordination of dispersed tent could be easily managed in a CMS and publishing and delivering interactive, mul-
teams, allows improved authoring support processed with automated tools. And they timedia content via Web or CD-ROM.
to shorten writing cycles and handles grow- realized a significant savings by sending XyEnterprise products, out of the box,
ing volume and complexity of content. only modified topics through the transla- leverage XML by integrating seamlessly
Because DITA is based on standards tion process. with best-of-breed authoring, publishing,
and is extensible, adopting DITA is a good content management, advanced diagnostic,
investment for the future. If your CMS sup- language translation and other XML-based
The Promise of DITA applications. We support the ability to cre-
ports DITA as well as other standards or
file types, your DITA solution can evolve Content reuse provides not only process ate, manipulate, store, manage and publish
to accommodate new content and require- efficiencies, but also the ability to produce XML content.
ments without disruption. versions of content tailored to specific To ensure usability and investment
DITA’s strongest reception has been audiences or markets. This can be called preservation, our software was developed
among high-tech companies who provide “verticalization.” One provider of automat- on an open architecture that supports both
end users with information on consumer ed business process solutions uses DITA to existing and emerging standards, diverse
devices, software applications or IT hard- create customized documentation for its content structures simultaneously, easy
ware. Adobe, IBM and Sybase are some of vertical suite of solutions. By creating con- integration with third-party applications and
the well-known adopters of DITA. tent in self-contained DITA topics, they multiple delivery channels.
However, many others are using DITA for extend the value and applicability of the
product documentation, delivering online content, while at the same time eliminating
help, Web documentation and paginated redundant content authoring and updates. “Companies can now
information in many formats. XyEnterprise customers have reported
savings of 50% to 75% in translation costs automate workflow, reduce
and productivity gains, not to mention a
DITA Addresses Key Business substantial reduction in time-to-market costs and improve the
Challenges for global products when using DITA with
DITA is ideally suited for communicat-
a CMS. accuracy of their content.”
DITA also offers the DITA Open
ing technical information in short, self-con- Toolkit, tools for processing content for
tained topics. DITA applications vary from delivery. Perhaps its most attractive feature Contenta DITA
company to company, and often from is the cost—it’s free! The DITA Open Because the DITA architecture is based on
department to department, but the business Toolkit transforms content into various a highly modular approach, it dovetails with
problems are fundamentally universal: delivery formats, including online help, Contenta’s object-oriented view of the world.
◆ Increasing number and complexity of Web delivery and PDF. Documents can be Contenta has supported component-based
product versions and releases; published in multiple formats, versions and content reuse since its inception. Here are
◆ Expanding product portfolios; languages quickly; one company has been some of the ways that Contenta leverages the
◆ Time-to-market pressure; able to reduce its publishing cycle from DITA standard to provide a complete, inte-
◆ Global markets, requiring more lan- days to just minutes. Product can get to grated solution:
guages for product information; and market quicker, and the customized, brand- ◆ Seamlessly integrates with the authoring
◆ Multiple distribution channels requiring ed publications create more durable rela- environment to make topic creation easy;
customized content. tionships with customers and partners. ◆ Manages references efficiently;
One reason product documentation Many companies are beginning to plan ◆ Scales to handle large collections of
departments have embraced DITA is the specifics of their DITA implementation. DITA topics;
because of its topic-oriented, component- The savings in time, money and personnel ◆ Automates workflow to ensure adherence
based structure. With a CMS, DITA deliv- make DITA a solid business choice. to established business rules;
ers sets of individual topics so that only Productivity improvements mean writers ◆ Tracks content and provides versioning
changed topics need be translated. These and editors spend less time on process and and rollback capability;
translation efficiencies alone can more more time on content. And as an open stan- ◆ Incorporates other data formats into the
than justify the investment. Software docu- dard whose foundation is based on extensi- managed environment;
mentation groups—whose requirements bility, DITA provides investment protection ◆ Eliminates redundant authoring;
include multiple products, in multiple lan- in a scalable solution. The question is not ◆ Dynamically assembles DITA topics into
guages, for multiple partners—have seen “Why DITA?” but rather “When DITA?” ❚ documents;
CONTENT LIFECYCLE continues on page 4

S2 KMWorld April 2007


KMWWP Focus 4_1-4_c9 3/2/07 10:11 AM Page 3

PROMISE TO PRACTICE continues from page 1 information is prescribed based largely Leveraging XML intelligent graphic forms
around “topics.” such as SVG, CAD-related standards like
electronic and Web simultaneously—is now DITA also anticipates the need for the CGM and multimedia capabilities such as
the norm. standard to evolve—hence the Darwin an- Flash graphics, animations and videos, com-
While most enterprises agree that these gle—and provides a specific mechanism panies are exploring ways to enrich the user ex-
pressures exist, few are willing to increase staff called “specialization” for accommodating perience. PDF support for multimedia is one
to address these new challenges. The result? such changes. Industry work groups are now sign of this change, but the format is still es-
“Do more with less,” while the potential cost developing specializations for specific in- sentially page-based. Rich-media platforms
and revenue impact of late delivery or inaccu- dustries to ensure data interoperability and now use powerful database technology that
rate information has never been higher. The old exchange. By defining the mark-up, granu- supports XML natively, delivering a wide ar-
adage “publish or perish,” once reserved for ac- larity and even the mechanisms for collect- ray of graphic formats, and using embedded in-
ademics, now eerily applies to almost any or- ing and exchanging content, DITA goes be- telligence to serve up the appropriate content
ganization. yond prior standards. dynamically.
These business drivers (with translation DITA is an open standard in the public do- For instance, rather than a table of contents
costs typically taking the lead) require that main, and is officially supported by OASIS, the or standard text search, users will be able to ask
organizations rethink their authoring, con- Organization for the Advancement of Struc- questions or describe symptoms or problems
tent management and publishing processes. tured Information Standards, an independent and be presented with only the specific content
To remain competitive, an increasing num- standards body. Adopters and developers have that pertains to their requests. Animations will
ber of companies are turning to component- contributed to its development and ongoing show step-by-step installation or assembly pro-
based CMS technology and XML. evolution. Vendors (such as XyEnterprise) are cedures that can convey far more than text de-
submitting enhancements and extensions to scriptions and have the added benefit of being
DITA, improving the standard and its related globally applicable. For diagnostics and trou-
A New Generation components. A prime example is the DITA bleshooting, these devices will be able to con-
of XML Standards Open Toolkit which is available to all, and nect to the PC, automobile or appliance that has
includes a powerful set of software transfor- a problem and be intelligently guided based on
XML has demonstrated significant value mations that automatically convert DITA-struc-
for those who have embraced it. Until recent- the error codes reported by the device. The po-
tured content to a variety of output formats tential is enormous; and user expectations of
ly, most organizations developed proprietary including XSL-FO for print and PDF
document type definitions (DTDs) or schemas interactivity and graphic richness are rising
rendering, HTML for Web delivery and com- steadily as the Web has changed everyone’s
tailored to their specific needs or the needs of piled help formats for embedded or online
selected business partners. Using XML, com- perception about dynamic content delivery.
help delivery.
ponent-based authoring and CMS systems, or-
ganizations were able to share and reuse infor- A Road Map for Success
mation and more easily transform XML data “The DITA Open Toolkit can
to print, electronic and Web-based outputs. The With more than 15 years experience in pub-
implementation process, however, was com- lishing and structured content management,
plex and time-consuming. Developing a DTD
significantly reduce the cost XyEnterprise has implemented solutions for
required data modeling, and determining the some of the most demanding environments in
and learning curve associated a wide variety of industries including aerospace
appropriate level of granularity could be chal-
lenging. Developing and maintaining the trans- and defense, legal publishing and hardware and
with a move to XML.” software technology companies. From this van-
formations for multi-channel output was also
costly. In addition, since the DTD was devel- tage point we have evangelized for XML (and
oped in-house, the goal of easily sharing and In addition to technology, many best prac- back in the day, SGML), promoted component
exchanging data externally often fell short be- tices are supported by using DITA, including management versus document management
cause business and industry partners were un- minimalistic authoring and consistency of ter- and demonstrated the cost savings of highly au-
likely to use the same DTD. Where industry- minology. Component-based authoring and tomated publishing. We are encouraged by the
standard or government DTDs did exist, they consistent authoring styles provide the foun- significant increase in the number of compa-
were not always adopted; if they were adopt- dation for significant savings in language trans- nies that are adopting and embracing the best
ed, they were often modified to accommodate lation, particularly when combined with com- practices we have long promoted.
unique internal needs. puter-aided or automated language translation The compelling business challenges in
Fortunately, a new generation of XML technologies. today’s global market demand that compa-
standards has emerged that provides a com- A similarly prescriptive XML environ- nies rethink their content development and
prehensive environment for moving to XML— ment—S1000D—is gaining increased adoption delivery strategies to remain competitive.
including a well-defined DTD or schema. in defense-related and commercial applications. Moving away from the traditional docu-
Though the terminology is different (e.g. “data ment-based publishing processes, embrac-
modules” instead of “topics” and “publication ing XML, leveraging component-based au-
Welcome to DITA and S1000D thoring and deploying automated CMS and
modules” versus DITA “maps”), the potential
DITA—the Darwin Information Typing returns on investment are very similar. publishing technologies can substantially re-
Architecture—is an XML standard, origi- duce costs and improve accuracy and turn-
nally promulgated by IBM, that is acceler- around time. If you are considering such a
ating the rate of XML adoption worldwide.
Look Into the Future move, the time has never been better and the
Think of DITA as a complete XML starter The rapid adoption of XML, DITA and tools and environments available have nev-
kit which provides tools as well as best S1000D represent a significant evolution in er been richer. Looking forward, new tech-
practices to help you hit the ground run- how people approach the publishing process, nologies and delivery platforms will create
ning. The DTD is provided so you don’t but there are even greater changes on the new opportunities for forward thinking com-
have to create your own, and the level of horizon. Companies are exploring new and panies to interact with their customers.
granularity for managing components of richer forms of electronic content delivery. These are indeed exciting times. ❚

April 2007 S3
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CONTENT LIFECYCLE continues from page 2


COVERING THE CHANNELS continues from page 1 need to fix a paragraph or two; it’s a
◆ Delivers content to multiple output
“changes-only” strategy that makes emi-
of the mix as much as possible, and let the formats with automatic DITA map cre-
nent sense to me...an avowed non-abstrac-
system do its thing algorithmically. For ation based on easy to use “drag and
tionist. “The challenge is that now even
example, in the legal market, where you drop” interfaces;
small companies are wrestling with things
have gnarly elements like footnotes and ◆ Manages translated DITA content and inte-
that only the largest companies had to wres-
cross-references, being able to avoid hav- grates with translation tools and processes;
tle with only a few years ago,” says Kevin.
ing an individual sit and handcraft pages is ◆ Enables custom document assembly based
XML isn’t the only advancement making
a HUGE cost-savings. When the look of on full text or metadata so authors can find,
the document is fairly predictable, you can life easier for those facing publishing chal-
lenges. The Darwin Information Typing assemble and publish the right content; and
instruct software to do all the things that, ◆ Publishes to multiple channels simulta-
theretofore, a person had to do,” says Architecture (DITA) is an XML standard that
pre-defines content granularity as small, self- neously, integrating with the DITA Open
Kevin. Toolkit.
I take this opportunity to ask another contained “topics.” DITA also provides a
typical (i.e. dumb) question: “Sounds like means of extending the standard —sort of Contenta S1000D
a good solution for big companies with like taxonomies— for various vertical mar- Typically applied in the manufacture of
complex technical documentation and kets and business functions; vendors and military air, sea, and land vehicles, the S1000D
‘gnarly’ formatting problems, all right. So open source developers are building on this standard is seeing increased adoption in com-
what’s it mean to the little guy?” I thought DITA foundation every day. (That explains mercial applications. Contenta provides quick
I was cornering him. But I didn’t. the “Darwin” part—it keeps evolving.) and efficient out-of-the-box XML schema sup-
“It’s not just large companies that have XyEnterprise—and Kevin Duffy him- port for the S1000D specification, including
to wrestle with very dynamic product self—are very big in the DITA movement, editorial interfaces, publishing and rich me-
schedules,” says Kevin, more politely than I and evangelize the concept as well dia, Web-based delivery and retrieval. Here
deserve. “It’s no longer acceptable to as anyone can. Read more about it in are some of the ways that Contenta provides
update products every two years... you’re these pages. an end-to-end solution for content creation,
probably updating every six months. And Let me just say that the XyEnterprise management and delivery of S1000D-
you probably have five variations on the story I learned is many-faceted, no doubt. It compliant data:
theme of each of those products. So even leverages content management systems ◆ A common source database pre-config-
small companies have more dynamic and (CMS) to control and keep track of content ured for S1000D object types and meta-
complex products. Thus the cost of creat- components, who uses them and when data fields;
ing and maintaining the ancillary content they were most recently changed; it uses ◆ Simplified, role-based user interfaces;
(the manuals, the sales literature, the online XML to simplify the publication of that con- ◆ Robust history, version control, workflow
help) becomes a larger percentage of their tent in its many ultimate forms; and it and access control;
costs, so they need to find a way to do it increasingly is welcoming the DITA (and ◆ Hierarchical views based on specific data
more cost-effectively. S1000D...I didn’t even get to that one!; you’ll types, such as DMCs and PMCs;
“Furthermore,” Kevin continues, “even have to look it up) topic libraries to bring the ◆ Data module import using a simple drag-
smaller companies are doing business power of the “component content concept” and-drop interface;
globally. It’s not just the Global 1000 that to the masses.
need multiple-language content. As soon ◆ Streamlined data-module-builder inter-
I think you owe it to yourself to see face that helps construct projects, includ-
as you need multiple languages, you expo- where any or all of these facets can play
nentially increase the complexity and ing pre-populated metadata fields and
to help with your organizations’ content delivery of ready-to-author objects
potential cost of the support materials.” demands. ❚
Translation, as it turns out, is one of those to writers;
unexpected cost centers that tend to sneak Andy Moore is a 25-year publishing professional, edi- ◆ Sophisticated reporting for production
up on the less experienced companies. tor and writer who concentrates on business process and tracking status;
And XML excels at making language trans- improvement through document and content man- ◆ Ability to manage S1000D and legacy
lation a heck of a lot cheaper. Thanks to its agement. He is now publisher of KMWorld Magazine data simultaneously, and in the same
and its related online publications. database;
“component” nature, content in XML is in
chunks; when one of those chunks As editorial director for the Specialty Publishing Group, ◆ Integration with other systems, such as
changes, you only need to translate that Moore is the editorial chair for the “KMWorld Best LSA and parts ordering;
chunk. It saves you from re-translating an Practices White Paper” series. Moore is based in Camden, ◆ Multi-channel publishing and delivery to
entire chapter or section when you only Maine, and can be reached at andy_moore@verizon.net. IETM, XSL-FO and print/PDF. ❚

XyEnterprise XyEnterprise is a proven leader in content


101 Edgewater Drive management and multi-channel delivery,
Wakefield MA 01880-1296 providing solutions for technology, financial
services, publishing, manufacturing, gov-
PH: 781.756.4400 ernment and aerospace/defense. With
unmatched expertise in XML, their solu-
FAX: 781.756.4330 tions support an evolving marketplace—
Contact: info@xyenterprise.com including distributed workflows, multi-lan-
Web: www.xyenterprise.com guage content management, interactive
electronic delivery and emerging standards.