Category Archives: Technical Communication

DITAToo Free 60 Day Evaluation

DITAToo Promo

Starting today until the end of May, Adobe Framemaker users will be eligible for a free 60-day evaluation license of DITAToo DITA CMS. Plus a 15% discount off the list price of DITAToo if purchased within the 60-day trial period. If you are thinking of acquiring a CMS or looking to switch to a different one then this is the promotion for you. DITAToo is already an ultra affordable DITA CMS solution you can trust so why not try it out for free and see what all the hype is about?


to fill out the DITAToo web form and get started on a path to successfully managing your DITA content.

FrameMaker 2015 and DITAToo CCMS Video – Special Offer Pricing

Are you using FrameMaker as a DITA authoring tool or would like to? Is the cost of a DITA CCMS an issue? Not any more.

DITAToo CCMS cost to entry is very low. The DITAToo CCMS Server and first user license is only $950 list price. If you are interested in a copy, reach out to me at TCE will sell you the licenses at 10% off the already low cost. Offer good until 3/31/2016

See how by adding DITAToo DITA CCMS to FrameMaker you can get a complete solution for authoring, publishing, and managing DITA.

Here is the link to the video.

Three New Webinars With Adobe and The Content Era

PowerWebinar³ March 2016 – 3 × Tom Aldous, 3 × DITA and beyond, 3 × Free Knowledge

And it’s all about DITA and FrameMaker. And beyond DITA. It’s about authoring. And publishing. And how to make these things as easy as 1-2-3. To cut pain and high costs. To make structured authoring enjoyable. To make XML publishing fun. To make your life as a Technical Communicator more easier.

Why DITA is superior with FrameMaker 2015


Webinar Date: March 4, 2016
Webinar Time: 11 am PST / 2 pm EST / 8 pm CET
Registration Link:
Registration Fee: ZERO!

FrameMaker (2015 release) is a superb authoring environment for creating both “classic” as well as structured, XML-based content. In this webinar, Tom Aldous will share his experience and why he thinks DITA is superior with FrameMaker (2015 release).

FrameMaker was one of the first editors for structured content at all. It was 1992 when SGML was introduced in FrameMaker. Support for DITA was introduced 11 years ago! And what a development FrameMaker has made since then! Today you can author content in a friendly WYSIWYG environment, or in a content-centric view. Take advantage of the integrated, excellent source code editor with syntax highlighting, code completion and auto-suggest, XPATH 2.0 and XSLT Support, Regular Expressions, automatic background validation.

And there’s much more that makes authoring and publishing DITA a superior experience for both XML and Subject Matter Experts. And Tom Aldous from “The Content Era” will guide you through the pleasure of DITA and structured content editing with FrameMaker (2015 release).

Publishing DITA with FM 2015


Webinar Date: March 11, 2016
Webinar Time: 11 am PST / 2 pm EST / 8 pm CET
Registration Link:
Registration Fee: ZERO!

FrameMaker (2015 release) comes with a wide range of publishing options. And they also work perfectly with DITA.

You need a PDF? Well yes, you could hire this XSLT specialist to customize the DITA Open Toolkit for you, so that the result looks at least a little bit like what your Corporate Design requires. Or you could just use FrameMaker.
Publish DITA to PDF is as easy as 1-2-3 with FrameMaker!

You want to output a DITAmap to great looking Responsive HTML5? Well yes, again, you could hire this XSLT specialist. And wait weeks or months to get something that is, well, not exactly what you were looking for. Because, it’s not that responsive, has no proper search or index or navigation or Social Media Sharing possibilities.
Or you could just use FrameMaker. Publish DITA to Responsive HTML5 is as easy as 1-2-3 with FrameMaker 2015!

You want to create an iOS or Android app from your DITAmap? Well, yes, again you could hire this XSLT Specialist. That is … more probably this cool App Agency that will cost you this 5-digit “budget for cool stuff” that you didn’t have in exactly this quarter.
Or you could just use FrameMaker. Publish DITA to Responsive HTML5 is as easy as 1-2-3 with FrameMaker 2015!

And then there is DITA Publishing to ePUB, Kindle, CHM, WebHelp, iOS / Android Apps … Again you could hire … Well, you get the picture.

Tom Aldous will show you how easy you can publish DITA with Adobe FrameMaker 2015.

It’s not always about DITA


Webinar Date: March 18, 2016
Webinar Time: 11 am PST / 2 pm EST / 8 pm CET
Registration Link:
Registration Fee: ZERO!

In this third Webinar with Tom Aldous we will go beyond DITA. As great as DITA is for many scenarios, there are other XML languages as well. Many companies maintain their own Corporate XML architectures. And FrameMaker can handle all of them perfectly. And not only this: Imagine you have to implement (unstructured) supplier documentation into your DITA TechComm environment. Or you want to work completely with classic, template and style drive documentation without any XML at all.

Tom Aldous will have a look at the endless and unparalleled possibilities FrameMaker offers for Technical Documentation departments. Be prepared for a session full of insights and surprises.

About the Presenter

Tom Aldous Tom Aldous, the Founder/CEO of The Content Era LLC has over 25 years of experience in the Technical Communications industry. Besides being the managing partner and lead XML/DITA/CMS consultant at Integrated Technologies for over 20 years, Tom has also served as the Director of TechComm Business Development, Evangelism and TechComm Consulting at Adobe as well as a SVP of Global Operations at Acrolinx.

Currently Tom takes pride in being able to accomplish the seemingly impossible through his new venture, The Content Era. At The Content Era, Tom’s knowledge of content tools, markup languages and best practices have proven to reduce cycle time and increase efficiency for clients in numerous different verticals and industries including but not limited to software, information technology, finance, medical, energy, aviation and government.

7 Part FREE Recorded E-Seminar Series – Unstructured Content To XML / FrameMaker 10 Instructional Series

I recieve inquires about how to move a workflow from unstructured content (be it MSWord or FrameMaker) to an XML one often. The process requires several steps, but once mastered you will be able to “Unleash The Protential Within Your Documentation”.

This is where FrameMaker becomes automagical.

It is very important that you follow the series start to finish. I will bring a sample document through the full process and create all necessary system files. I will provide all files created on my blog.

Unstructured To XML Workflow Series Part 1:

Creating A FrameMaker Conversion Table


Unstructured To XML Workflow Series Part 2:

Creating A FrameMaker Conversion Table


Unstructured To XML Workflow Series Part 3:

Creating A FrameMaker Conversion Table


Unstructured To XML Workflow Series Part 4:

Element Definition Document (EDD) – Home Grown or a Standard


Unstructured To XML Workflow Series Part 5:

Creating your Structured Template from an Unstructured One


Unstructured To XML Workflow Series Part 6:

Structure Applications and What Is Necessary and How To Create


Unstructured To XML Workflow Series Part 7:

Save As XML, Now What?

I will be taking you through all the steps and workflow requirements to move you from anUnstructured To an XML / FrameMaker 10 workflow. It is going to be an instructional series.

Spread the word!

Tom and Hoa Aldous, Founders of The Content Era, LLC have entered into an equity partnership with Intuillion (the creators of DITAToo Component Content Management System

For immediate release: January 13, 2015

Port Charlotte, FL –Tom and Hoa Aldous have announced their entrance into an equity partnership alongside, Alex Masycheff and Pavel Shulga of Intuillion, an Israeli bases DITA Component Content Management System company, effective January 11, 2016

Tom and Hoa plan to leverage their knowledge and experience in the Technical Communication industry to grown DITAToo’s market share.

About Tom and Hoa

Tom Aldous has over 25 years of experience in the Technical Communications industry. Currently Tom and Hoa are founders and owners of TheContentEra LLC, a content consulting company based in Arcadia Fl.

About Intuillion

Intuillion is the creators of DITAToo. DITAToo is a cost effective DITA component content management system, with all of the bells and whistle of your typical high end CCMS. DITAToo has a flawless integration with Adobe FrameMaker, alongside features such as DITA 1.1 or DITA 1.2 support, a repository, map builder, link management, the ability to edit and created topics, publish through the DITA Open Toolkit, publishing profiles, versioning, and translation management.

With Tom and Hoa’s help DITAToo is looking to expand not just it’s US market share but it’s global market share while still holding true to its goal of providing you with affordable, high quality solutions that let you reduce costs for maintaining, creating, translating, and publishing content. Tom, Hoa, Alex and Pavel stand by putting their clients first.



To learn more about this partnership, please contact

Tom Aldous


September 03, 2015

10:00 am – 11:00 am PDT (UTC-07:00)  / 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST

 Register Now

FrameMaker has all the tools included “in the box” to allow doing stuff that is totally out of the box in communication. In this webinar, Tom Aldous and Jang Graat of The Content Era LLC will showcase their revolutionary WYSIWYN (What You See Is what You Need) paradigm of publishing, also named “Live DITA Documents” (although the technique can be used with any structured material). The most promising aspect of this new paradigm is enabling users to edit the materials in their actual work environment, Using just a browser and zero plug-ins or other installed software, those users can enter corrections and comments. which are “automagically” fed back to the author’s desk and appear as tracked changes in the FrameMaker source materials. Mark the date when you first witnessed the start of a revolution in content creation and revision. The Content Era is here!


The latest best features in FrameMaker 2015

FrameMaker’s product development team shows no signs of fatigue. After adding big chunks of functionality in the previous releases, the latest edition shows important improvements in a variety of domains.

The most apparent change in FrameMaker is of course its naming convention. 18 months after the release of FrameMaker 12, Adobe has now decided to avoid the unlucky number 13 and went for the year instead. Many other software companies have done the same over the past decade. It will come in handy when, years from now, the tech authoring team is trying to convince their management that an upgrade is required. “But our current software is 5 years old, just look at the version number!”

More important is the contents of the new software package. At first glance, most of the known features have not changed much. But once you go through the menus and functions with a little more attention, it is apparent that a lot of effort was put into the product. This is not merely a cosmetic release. In this short review, we are convering a couple of the new features that we feel to be important, even if that importance is not the same for all users.

Embracing diversity: bi-directional language support

Most of us are so used to reading and writing in English, that we tend to forget there are languages that require a radically different approach to creating an authoring environment. Since the introduction of Unicode (in FrameMaker 8) has gotten rid of most translatability issues, by allowing all possible character sets to be incorporated into the same document without having to get down and dirty with codepages, the next big reform concerns the direction in which those characters are strung together.

Supporting right-to-left (RTL) languages, such as Hebrew and Arabic, is not an easy thing, as simply reversing the direction on everything will not do. When authors write about products that have their names written left to right, these product names will have to show up as LTR, no matter what the text direction of the paragraph is in which they appear. Also, product manuals or webpages might contain text in multiple languages on the same page. This implies that having one language direction switch on the top level, as is the case in Madcap Flare, is not going to solve the issue. True RTL language support requires support for bi-directional content. If a paragraph is RTL, it may still contain a term that is LTR. It is this mix of RTL and LTR components that make things complicated.

And there is even more aspects to consider. It is not just language that may have to be rendered in one or the other direction. What about the sidehead, alignment of content, the appearance of graphic items. It is not enough to allow defining such features while creating the content: you will want to pull translated content back into FrameMaker to do the final checkup and creation of Arabic and Hebrew versions. This means that you should be able to switch from one alignment to another, using the language direction settings that may be defined on every individual object.

This is exactly how it works in FrameMaker 2015: each element on the page, as well as on the master page, can be explicitly set to “right-to-left” or  “left-to-right”. When the default “inherit” setting is selected, higher elements in the hierarchy of objects is queried until an explicit setting is found. If no direction settings are found in the entire document, the default LTR direction is used. Flipping the direction after a translation is returned is a piece of cake, and when you have marked page elements, tables, graphics, paragraphs or text sections with an explicit text direction, they will not be affected. Playing around with these new direction tools feels like doing magic.

Of course, things become really interesting when you are working in a structured environment that supports text direction, such as DITA. With the “dir” attribute that was already present in DITA 1.1, any piece of content can be made to remain RTL or LTR as desired, or use inheritance from elements higher up in the structure. Again, the definition of content direction works along the entire structure and may lead to publications that contain chapters in both directions. With this level of bi-directional support, it is a shame to not have a lot of customers in the RTL language areas (yet).

Simplifying the XML experience

In the previous FrameMaker release, Adobe introduced an author view, as a kind of middle ground between the sophisticated WYWIWYG environment and the somewhat geeky XML view. The author view provided a simplified structured authoring experience, from which all direct formatting and visual page references were removed. The authors get visual feedback on the structured content they are creating, but do not have the ability to tweak that content explicitly by setting characteristics such as font sizes and styles, line spacing or other types of overrides. Simply because those buttons and commands were removed from the interface in this author view.

In FrameMaker 2015, this author view has received another option, which is designed to allow subject matter experts (SMEs) access to sections of the content in a further simplified authoring environment. Enabling this simplified XML editor is done via a preference setting. Once this is chosen, a form-like authoring screen is shown from which all structure is removed. Inserting elements can be done via a special toolbar, which can be configured in various ways to accommodate different types of structured documents. In one document, you might want to allow an SME to create a basic topic from scratch, whereas in another the SME is supposed to fill in the blanks without touching what is already there.

Whether this novel approach to simplify XML editing is going to be a winner remains to be seen. It seems that dumbing down an XML standard, to a point where a non-structure-savvy SME can use it, might lead to poorly marked-up content, in which case the use of XML does not add much value over WordPress or plain HTML. Possibly the quality of the markup depends on the amount of work that is put into setting up the templates for each particular case. The good news is that roundtripping to either the full WYSIWYG or the formal XML views remains possible, so that you are not obliging your tech docs department to minimize their use of the full standard. As a new approach to XML editing by non-XML authors, it is an interesting path to follow, even if it will be from a safe distance. We will see what this simplified future will bring.

DITA 1.3: more and less DITA at the same time

FrameMaker was one of the early adopters of DITA, and it is a good sign that all of the documentation for the FrameMaker and RoboHelp products was created in DITA. The cows may be holy, but they are eating their own dog food in India. To us, it was not a big surprise that FrameMaker 2015 features support for the latest version of the standard, as we were involved in the creation of the DITA 1.3 EDDs and templates ourselves. This does give us an advantage in explaining what are the most important enhancements in FrameMaker’s DITA support.

The timing of the FrameMaker 2015 was excellent: shortly after the new FrameMaker version was officially released, the DITA 1.3 draft for public review was published. If no dramatic errors in the specifications are found, the new standard should become official (very) early next year. And as this is an evolution rather than a dramatic redesign, all the signs tell us that nothing dramatic will happen.

There are several new domains in DITA 1.3. Notably, these are the SVG and MathML domains, the release management domain and the XML mention domain. Also, there is an important new “deliveryTarget” attribute and several elements and attributes to better support contextual help delivery. Even though these new domains and attributes make it possible to apply DITA to new business areas and media, we are not going to cover them in more detail here. Check the draft for public review if you want to find out all the details.

But even if your organization wants to take no chances and stay with DITA 1.2 for a while, there might be good reasons to go for the DITA 1.3 support in FrameMaker 2015 and just leave out the domains and elements that were added. Effectively, you will be working with DITA 1.2, but you will have the advantages of using the redesigned DITA EDDs and templates. We will try to explain why this would be a good move to make.

The true added value in the new DITA 1.3 implementation is the option to easily implement constraints. These were introduced in DITA 1.2 as an effective way to limit the exposure of the standard to your authors. Instead of changing the DTDs, templates and transformation scenarios, you could simply add constraint modules to the full standard, which effectively removed elements from the available catalogs. This became a necessity as the number of elements in DITA was steadily growing with every business domain for which the basic elements were being specialized.

Nobody in their right mind should be using DITA out of the box, without first analyzing which elements are applicable to their business domain, and filtering out all the others. This was the sole reason why the EDDs and templates were reorganized from the ground up. Problems with nested text insets snd incomprehensible variables were removed, and the use of conditional text was enhanced, using all the new options provided by the improved conditional text expression builder.

With the new set of DITA 1.3 EDDs, anyone can build a constrained EDD for any DITA topic or map type in minutes, where this job could take days and required a lot of technical knowledge in the previous implementation. The co-called document shell EDDs contain lists of domains and conditions that are included and offer direct visual feedback on the validity of the chosen combination of conditional text snippets. Even if you are only using DITA 1.2, the DITA 1.3 EDDs with their support for constraints will make you much more effective in offering the optimal set of elements to your technical authors. And this requires no knowledge of DTDs or EDDs whatsoever.

Putting the user in control of the content

On the publishing side, the main additions to FrameMaker have appeared in the previous release, when the publishing engine of RoboHelp was incorporated into the product. One-click publication of up to 5 different output formats became a true option. What is more, the definition of the CSS that governs the look and feel of your responsive HTML5 design was made as easy as is humanly possible. A fully visual and totally easy CSS editor was built into the settings dialog. In FrameMaker 2015, there are further enhancements to this feature and the option to publish to a mobile IOS and Android  app was added.

More media and more CSS options are nice, but not a devastating new feature. What is truly new in the interactive output, however, is the inclusion of filtering options. Not filtering before publishing but after the materials are delivered to the user. This is another feature that has crossed over from RoboHelp to FrameMaker, and it has been implemented well. Instead of creating multiple outputs, one for each target group, you now have the option to pass the conditions (with which you have marked up your content) into the output and give the users the ability to filter the output as they see fit. You define the labels and set the corresponding conditional text expressions and the publishing process creates the filter controls in the output. This not only optimizes production of output, as you no longer have to create one set of files for each target group, but you also provide content that will be more useful for each individual user. After all, who are you to decide what each user already knows? How good does your persona match each and every user in your imagined target group? In fact, only the user knows what the user already knows. What the users need from the help system is based on the gaps in their knowledge that they can probably define best for themselves.

This new approach to filtering content in the output brings progressive disclosure within reach without having to spend a lot of work on defining your own transformation scripts or web application. A welcome addition to a publication chain that was already impressive.

PRODUCT LAUNCH: What’s new in FrameMaker (2015 Release)

FrameMaker 2015 is now out. Kapil Verma, Head of Adobe TechComm Product Management and Marketing will be showing off it’s new features.

I will be following up this presentation with my own point of view of where it might fit in an enterprise’s workflow. Watch for a follow up blog post.

There are so many great tools out there to assist us in providing value to our organizations. When we drive the greater group’s goals, we get influence that moves processes. Finding the right tools solutions is critical.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Register Here


MAJOR PRODUCT LAUNCH: Join the Adobe Product Management team for an interactive learning session packed with LIVE product demos and Q&A. Watch them publicly unveil for the very first time the latest versions of FrameMaker 2015 release, FrameMaker Publishing Server 2015 release, and the specialist XML editor FrameMaker XML Author 2015 release.

Key new features and  major workflow improvements in the FrameMaker product family that will be covered in this session, include:

  • Editing and publishing support for Right-to-Left languages, viz. Arabic and Hebrew
  • Out-of-the-box publishing to mobile including native mobile apps, web, desktop and print
  • Easier layout editor for HTML5 allowing inclusion or exclusion of widgets for Filter, Search, etc.
  • Dynamic Content Filters enabling users to quickly find highly personalized, contextually relevant content
  • Greatly enhanced Word import into FrameMaker
  • Empowering SMEs to work in the simplified “form-like” XML environment, without knowing XML
  • Improved efficiency and usability with tables and conditional text control
  • Working faster with enhanced Structure view, inline MathML equations and reduced EDD customization time
  • Extended DITA 1.3 support, “mini-TOC”, improved Quick Element Insertion Toolbar and a host of other features
  • Key UI enhancements to boost productivity



The Content Era, LLC goes global With The Addition Of Jang Graat To The Team

Press Release

As of May 1st, 2015, The Content Era LLC
has become a multinational company, by appointing Jang F.M.
Graat as Chief Technologist and EMEA Business Developer.

Jang F.M. Graat studied Physics, Psychology and Philosophy
before embarking on a fast-track career in the high-tech computer
industry almost 30 years ago. With his intellectual background
and vast practical experience in all aspects of technical and
marketing communication, he is bringing out-of-the-box thinking
and programming skills into The Content Era.

In the past 10 years, Jang has delivered countless presentations at
conferences around the globe. His talks were invariably thought provoking and indicative of a passion to make content, and the
process of creating content, more intelligent, efficient and

Jang has taught himself programming in a wide variety of
languages (PHP, VBA, ASP, Java, C++, C#, JavaScript, XSLT)
and is one of the world’s leading experts in Adobe’s ExtendScript
for FrameMaker. He is an active member of the DITA community
since 2008 and takes part in several OASIS committees to extend
the DITA standard to new business domains.

Apart from programming and inventing new technologies, Jang
will be responsible for the development of the EMEA market for
The Content Era, as he is based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Also,
he will be performing training, either online or on-site, wherever
that is needed. Jang is fluent in English, Dutch, German and

For More information contact -

Tom Aldous
The Content Era, LLC