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Guided DITA Authoring Solution Overview

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We have some past blog posts about how Oxygen can be used to impose various editing behaviors for your team. In this one, will try to bring all of these solutions together in a comprehensive overview.

Learning to Work with DITA and Oxygen

You can find useful links for learning how to edit DITA using Oxygen in this previous blog post: Resources for learning DITA with Oxygen.

Migrating to DITA

There are multiple reasons why you would want to migrate from unstructured content to structured: Migrating to a Structured Standards-based Documentation Solution.

This older blog post details some possibilities of migrating Word documents to DITA: How to Migrate from Word to DITA.

You also have ways to migrate from XML-based standards (like DocBook or XHTML to DITA) using a set of predefined transformation scenarios.

Restricting the Visual Editing Experience

The entire visual editing experience in Oxygen's Author editing mode is driven by CSS. Oxygen has support for defining various CSS layers that can be applied when editing DITA content. For example, if you choose to create a Lightweight DITA topic in Oxygen, it has a special editing layer that contributes a combination of buttons, hints, and form controls designed to assist and guide the author. The following blog post details how a custom CSS that will be used to enhance the visual editing experience can be created and shared with others: Customizing the DITA Visual Editing Experience.

Implementing Your own Style Guide

Suppose you are a team of technical writers collaborating on a DITA-based project and you have your own various best practices in regards to which elements to use and when to use them. So, at some point you gather a set of HTML resources that explain how various DITA elements should be used, you store them on an internal server, and you want all your team members to have access to that set of HTML resources directly from Oxygen. This blog post provides more details and useful links to help you get started: Implementing your own Style Guide.

Imposing Controlled Attribute Values

If you want to impose DITA attribute values that need to be set for profiling or general use, this blog post should cover all you need to know about this: Controlled Attribute Values for your DITA Project.

Imposing Business Rules and Structure Restrictions to the DITA Content

In most cases, instead of relying on people to memorize numerous internal documentation style rules, you can convert many of these rules to Schematron and allow the application to automatically signal the content author when a rule is violated. You can also add quick fixes to provide authors various ways to rectify the problem. This blog post contains more details about this: Schematron Checks to help Technical Writing.

The DITA framework can be extended to add new Schematron rules: Sharing Schematron Validation Rules.

Running Batch Validation Checks on all of Your DITA Content

The Validate and Check For Completeness tool available in the DITA Maps Manager view performs a lot of different consistency checks on all your DITA topics. It can also be used to apply Schematron business rules on all of your topics: DITA Map Validate and Check for Completeness Overview.

Sharing DITA Editing Customizations with Your Team

Most of the custom editing behaviors, toolbar, and menu buttons that are available when editing DITA content are defined in the DITA framework configuration. A framework configuration's general anatomy is described here: The Oxygen SDK (Part 2: Frameworks).

The framework configuration can be shared with all of your team members. For example, here is a way to restrict team members from using certain DITA elements: Document Type Extension Sharing.

Furthermore, here is a way to distribute new DITA file templates to your team: Sharing New Custom File Templates for a Specific Vocabulary.

Sharing Global Application Settings with Your Team

Suppose you want all of your team members to enable the automatic spell checker when writing documentation, or you want all of them to use a custom term dictionary or a custom set of learned words. This older blog post offers some hints about how global Oxygen settings can be distributed to your team members: Sharing Application Settings.

Collaboration, Content Management, and Version Tracking

All major Content Management Systems (CMSs) have plugins that can be installed in Oxygen to provide access to the CMS: https://www.oxygenxml.com/partners.html#cmssolutionpartners.

Even if you lack the funds to buy a commercial CMS, there are still plenty of open source version tracking solutions that provide the possibility of collaboration on a single DITA project: Collaboration (Teams working on a common XML project). For example, the Oxygen User's Manual is written in DITA and we use a GitHub private repository to collaborate on it: Collaboration for Documenting a Software Product using DITA.

Allowing Subject Matter Experts to Review Content

Many technical writers are interested in having their content reviewed by the subject matter experts who are directly involved in building the tools. Oxygen has support for change tracking and adding comments directly in the edited content. Subject matter experts do not necessarily need to have the standalone version of Oxygen installed. The Oxygen Web Author is an online editing and reviewing solution that allows them to add comments and propose changes directly in the DITA content by using any device with a web browser (laptop, tablet, phone): https://www.oxygenxml.com/xml_web_author.html.

I hope this overview will help you to implement a complete guided authoring experience using Oxygen. As usual, if you have any questions or suggestions, they are welcome.