I’ve presented at this conference for the last several years, and my impression this year is that the level of discourse has noticeably risen. There were more topics that were more technical. Presenters discussed more best practices, more concrete experiences, and more practical advice than in years past, when many discussions were more or less theoretical. Instead of “this is what will/might/should happen,” I heard more of what did happen and is happening. It sounds cliche and, yes, self-serving to say it, but this is an exciting time to be “in” DITA.
For me, these were the highlights of the conference:
- Steve Anderson mentioned the QA plugin in his presentation “Automation and testing DITA OT Content and Customizations”! I was totally stoked.
- George Bina showed us his RelaxNG plugin, which reproduces the DITA DTDs in an easier to manipulate format. By combining RelaxNG with Schematron, you can deeply customize your authoring experience, both constraining elements and attributes and providing in-line guidelines to authors.
- Michael Boses also discussed the awesomeness of Schematron. Ok, fine, I’m convinced. We’ll rewrite the QA plugin in Schematron.
- Bryan Schnabel showed his XLIFF round trip plugin, which converts DITa to and from XLIFF. Just converted a document to XLIFF. It was glorious. I am going to be all over this one.
- Mat Verghese from Citrix discussed a detailed and solid vision for raising the value and esteem of Content Strategists
- Keith Schengili-Roberts, in his keynote, gave me some great ideas for additions to the QA plugin, like calculating Flesch-Kincaid reading scale values. More to come on that front.
- Mark Baker discussed the use cases for his SPFE architecture, which is a different solution to many of the problems DITA implementors face. I particularly liked the idea of automagically creating links based on string matches. It’d be cool if the QA plugin’s link report could suggest new links based on the content….hmmm…
- I learned you can directly style XML with CSS! Who knew? There must be some great applications for this.
- And of course, Eliot Kimberly released his new book on implementing DITA. I’ll be posting a review sooner rather than later.
All told, a great conference.