Getting Pushy With DITA: The Costs and Benefits of Conref Push

DITA features acquire a different luster as they are adopted or ignored:
– Some just sparkle for years — key-based referencing, branch filtering
– Some spark and then fade — scoped keys, release management metadata
– Some lurk in the shadows — conref push, Classification maps

The DITA 1.2 feature dubbed “conref push” prior to its release in 2010 had a “break-glass-in-case-of-emergency” feel to it, something to be investigated when all else had failed. The mysterious counterpart to the popular “conref pull”, the “conref push” filter allowed writers to define content in one DITA topic that could be “pushed” into a different, unsuspecting topic at build time. The primary use case — changing the content of a topic that you could not edit directly — seemed mysterious and sketchy at best. The risks of allowing writers to hijack one another’s content were more obvious than the benefits, so the “conref push” feature has remained on the periphery.

This presentation takes a sober and fresh look at the feature:
1. Requirements — both the documented and undocumented to use it successfully
2. Risks — how extreme are the risks and how have writing teams successfully mitigated them
3. Use cases — how have writing teams successfully used conref push to address the following:
a. Updates to content that a team does not own
b. Human-authored updates to machine-generated content
c. Dynamic content creation for infobots and personalized web sites
d. Content badging
e. Link management and encapsulation for shared topics

What can the audience expect to learn?

It’s going to be a little time before DITA 2.0 and LwDITA are ready for prime time. Keeping DITA tech weenies engaged with the lesser-known features in DITA 1.2 and 1.3 makes sense for a Spring 2020 conference. Besides, the requirements and use cases for this particular feature have been under-documented and under-promoted. There’s a lot more there.

Meet the presenter

Stan Doherty lives in the the Boston area and works as a consulting user assistance developer at Oracle Corporation.

He serves as a founding member of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee, secretary for the OASIS DITA Adoption Technical Committee, and co-coordinator of the Boston DITA Users Group. Feel free to contact Stan if you are considering DITA, DITA tools, and DITA-aware CCMSs.


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