Thursday Jan 15, 2009

Debra Scott: Best Executive/Manager

Unbelievably, I have just lost the best executive/manager I have ever seen in my (mumble) decades in this industry. This post is a tribute. Consider it a referral.
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Tuesday Dec 23, 2008

Cut Payoll, Save Jobs

It's time for the 4-day work week--at least for the next year. Businesses save 20% on their payroll, keep their talent, and workers keep their jobs. What's not to like?[Read More]

Thursday Dec 04, 2008

Information Architecture and Planning

JoAnn Hackos' course on "Minimalism" (user-centric, task-focused documentation) had useful guidelines for information architecture design. That topic-tracking tables she showed us became the foundation for the approach I now use. They made it possible to organize my work and keep track of what I was doing.[Read More]

Wednesday Dec 03, 2008

Creating Topics: Where do you Draw the Line?

It's hard to look at a page of text and try to decide where to divide things to create individual topics. That "bottom up" approach is kind of pointless, in fact. There are better ways.

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Monday Nov 24, 2008

Why I like Ruby: String Interpolation & "here" docs

There are many reasons to like Ruby. String interpolation and "here docs" are two of them. This post shows how they would improve JSP syntax, in particular.

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Wednesday Oct 22, 2008

Docs Aren't Code

In the world of development, the need to track bug reports and enhancement requests are a given. But they're not generally required for documentation, in the way they are for code Quite the reverse. For documentation, bug reports and enhancement requests provide little benefit, and generally impede progress. (Reports filed by users are an exception, but only if that is the only means they have to provide feedback.)

This post compares documentation and code, showing why bug reports and enhancement requests are so vital to the code base, and at the same time why those reasons simply do not apply to documentation.

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Tuesday Oct 14, 2008

DITA OT Customization

This paper outlines a course given by Adena Frazier of Suite Solutions--a course which is highly recommended for anyone who wants to get the most of the OT. This paper outlines the most important processes, but it leaves out many of the details, tips, and debugging notes that were included in the course. Note, too, that errors easily could have crept in, and some details are bound to change for later versions of the toolkit. (We used version 1.4.1) So it makes a lot of sense to take the course, even if you find the outline useful.[Read More]

Monday Oct 06, 2008

Modular Docs Part 2: DITA vs. DocBook

This is the second in a two-part series. Part 1 describes the motivations for modular documentation. Part 2 zeros in on the reasons for choosing DITA.

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Modular Docs Part 1: Why You Want Modular, Topic-Oriented Documentation

This is the first in a two-part series. Part 1 describes the motivations for modular documentation. Part 2 zeros in on the reasons for choosing DITA.

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Tuesday Jul 01, 2008

My Apache WebDAV/Windows Nightmare

Subversion is WebDAV-ready. Cool! "Just enable WebDAV in Apache". Riiigght... Like it was really that simple! But even after you get it working, there are problems: DreamWeaver's synchronization mechanisms leave a lot to be desired, and XMetaL access depends on mapping a drive in Windows--a mechanism that simply doesn't work--unless you manage to get SSL working in your WebDAV server, so you can make an https connection (something I never managed to do in Apache).


  • Initial Installation
  • Access Path Issues
  • Browsing Issues
  • DreamWeaver's Synchronization Model
  • XMetaL's Dependency on Windows
  • Conclusion

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Thursday Jun 12, 2008

Got a road bike! (And found a great store)

Got a great bike, found a great store, and had some fun on the roads...[Read More]

Monday Apr 28, 2008

My Experience with Daisy: Installation and First Use

I'm still a fan of the functionality that Daisy has implemented. But after having played with it for a bit, it seems to be somewhat less than optimal with respect to error handling and documentation.[Read More]

Sunday Apr 13, 2008

Daisy: WYSIWYG Wiki for PDF Books

If you need the collaborative aspects of a Wiki combined with DITA's modular topics and publishing capabilities, then DAISY might just be the system you need--and it's free. DAISY provides WYSIWYG editing for Wiki pages that can be combined to publish books, either in a PDF or as a single HTML page.


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The Value of Semantic Tags

So what's wrong with using <b>, <i>, and <tt>, anyway? What's so useful about identifying things as menu items, , or filenames? Here's the list of reasons that surfaced at the recent 2008 DITA/CMS Conference. What are your thoughts? [Read More]

Highlights of the 2008 DITA CMS Conference

The 2008 DITA CMS Conference was informative, educational, and in many cases surprising.  My personal highlights include Daisy, DITAStorm, WebWorks ePublisher, and more...

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