Single Source All Your Content

The authoring, editing and publishing workflow does not have to be disrupted.

In the Technical Communication (TechComm) Industry, we have been promoting single sourcing your content workflow for a while now. What we mean by single sourcing is that source content should be authored and edited in one universal format that eventually gets published in its various output formats like HTML5, PDF, ePub, Mobile Applications, etc. You should never edit the published content directly. If a change is required to the published content, the source should be updated and republished.

This sounds good in principle, but sometimes you need variations of the same content for different publication types. The best way to handle that is by using XML with metadata for conditional publish, managed in a Component Content Management System (CCMS) with Release management and Workflow capabilities. All XML structures are not the same, so which one should you standardize your organization’s content on? Standardize is the key. Using the popular XML Standard that is built from its foundation for content reuse and customization is the right step. That XML Standard is DITA.

If you buy off on this logic, you should have a few open questions.
Can more than Technical Communication Content be single sourced? How about Market and Sales Content?

How do we convert our existing content to the DITA XML Standard without disrupting our current authoring and publishing cycle? Without TechComm, Marketing and Sales Content most products can not be sold.

I heard Component Content Management Systems (CCMS) are very expensive. How do I create an ROI case for purchase? Worse yet, what if we simply do not have the budget for an expensive CCMS? Does that stop us from being able to Single Source our content in the DITA Format? The short answer is that there is a DITA CCMS vendor that is disrupting the current market. Their CCMS costs less than $1,000 for the server license and one user license. Now you can afford to pilot an XML DITA implementation. Prove out the Return Of Investment with real data. The low Total Cost Of Ownership also makes reaching the ROI numbers your Senior Managers require easier. That CCMS is DITAToo HTTP:\\www.aldousCMS.com. Full disclosure I am an equity partner in the firm the owns DITAToo.

When it comes to … can DITA XML content being used to create Marketing Content? Visit my Companies Website at http://www.TheContentEra.com. The complete website is published from DITA topics tied together by a master DITAMAP.

If you are interested in discussing anything about this, please feel free to reach out to me at tom.aldous@TheContentEra.com.