“DITAWriter” is Keith Schengili-Roberts, a Senior Content Strategist with Yellow Pencil, advising and helping clients with Information Architecture for their web sites and DITA implementations. Keith was formerly the Manager of a Documentation team within the engineering group for a large firm in the semiconductor industry who took his team into the bright new world of DITA back in 2006. He also worked as its Information Architect, redesigning the content deliverables and moving the group from an unstructured FrameMaker-based toolchain to one that used a DITA Content Management System.
There are a lot of XML editors out there, so what makes FontoXML stand out from the rest, especially for DITA users?
Jan Benedictus: Yes there are quite a few XML editors out there, many of them from long-established vendors. However, coming from our “web-based perspective” we made some fundamentally different choices in the design of FontoXML than editors coming from a long-standing XML / technical background.
Our starting point was the challenge of engaging SMEs to do structured authoring. We have tried to apply all of what we have learned from our online experience to reach this goal. We think people would prefer to use a tool not because the must do so, but because they like it. So we designed a user interface that we think is not only easy-to-use but also compelling and attractive.
As is common with software created for use in the online world, we extensively measure usage statistics and are constantly tweaking the interface. So we incorporate webservices in the authoring interface like automatic metadata suggestion, suggested related content and real-time feedback on content quality. Thus, we really try to make FontoXML a solution that gets more people to write better, structured content while benefitting organizations by reducing the costs this process.
So we are constantly seeking to bridge the gap between authors that are used to concepts such as bold and italics versus the semantic elements that characterize XML. We are putting a lot of effort towards making the whole concept of DITA maps and the position of topics therein more understandable for SMEs. We are also putting considerable effort in ongoing user testing of the interface to discover what works best.