How long is a topic?

A topic is the least amount of content needed to fully address a single subject. It is long enough to stand on its own, but modular and short enough to facilitate re-use. There are many such verbal descriptions of what a topic should be, but few guidelines for how that should bear out in reality. Can there be guidelines, or is “content” too diverse? At least it’s interesting to look at what there IS out there. In this talk we’ll present the results of a survey and statistical analysis of real-world DITA content. Is there a measurable common practice for the actual length of a DITA topic? Is it 200 words? 2000? Do the numbers vary according to topic type? To industry? To any other factors? Let’s find out what the data can tell us.

What can the audience expect to learn?

The information here may help the audience to make informed decisions about content architecture. It may help with writing style guidelines, by suggesting common industry practices. At the very least, it should be nerdy and hopefully at least somewhat entertaining.

Meet the presenter

Tom Magliery has been an evangelist for XML and structured authoring for over 20 years. For most of that time he has been a member of the XMetaL team, serving as sales engineer, professional services engineer, solutions consultant, support specialist, trainer, and webinar and conference presenter. In short, he’s willing to wear whatever hat is necessary at any given time. He is also active as JustSystems’s representative and currently the co-secretary of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee.

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