Too Much of a Good Thing: How to simplify DITA for new DITA Authors

Although one of the most commonly voiced fears about moving to DITA is that writers will chafe at the loss of liberty involved with moving to a structured authoring environment, in practice we often find, paradoxically, that authors are overwhelmed by the flexibility of the architecture. How can they quickly learn to apply the new architecture, with its hundreds of elements and attributes? Mantych focuses on a number of strategies employed by ADP to ease the learning and implementation curve for first-time DITA authors. 

What can the audience expect to learn?

In a way, you might think this presentation is “Part 2” of the ADP series “Tips and Tricks for Simplifying Your DITA/CCMS Implementation.” Last year, we discussed how we structured our pre-conversion and conversion work both to make automated conversion simpler and to begin to get our authors used to the DITA structures we would employ. This year, we’d like to explain the strategies we’re employing (from using DITA constraints to our specific training program) to support authors through the next phase of the migration to DITA (i.e., beginning to author and edit in DITA). Naturally, not everything we tried worked, so we’ll have both “dos” and “dont’s” to share. Our hope is that others can learn from our experience and make their own transitions easier.

Although the “stories” will come from our experience during our initial implementation, some of the strategies could also be applied to existing implementations. Many would also apply when onboarding new hires in a DITA environment.

Meet the Presenter

Toni Mantych

Toni Mantych is currently the Information Architect for a department of over sixty information developers at ADP. She has led numerous content strategy and information architecture initiatives, most recently a multi-year migration to structured authoring with DITA and the implementation of component content management. Toni has also taught graduate-level courses in information architecture, DITA, content strategy, usability, and various technical communication tools and technologies at Portland State University. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and a certified AIIM Metadata and Taxonomy Practitioner. She has spoken recently at Information Development World, LavaCon, the STC Summit, and local STC chapter meetings.


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