One of the challenges that comes with authoring documentation using a wiki is getting the documentation out of a wiki and into another format. Sure, there are wiki to PDF converters, and filters for exporting to HTML and XHTML. But what are the options for converting wiki content to a (relatively) structured format?
Recently, a colleague sent me a document detailing the DITA message specialization. The document is an HTML Help file, and I noticed that many of the links in the file (which described certain DITA elements) had tooltips which appeared when I held the mouse pointer over them.
I viewed the source of one of the topics in the file, and discovered that the author of the document had added the HTML title attribute to the links, along with a description of each DITA element. It was a simple and effective solution, one which didn’t require any scripting. Overall, it was a nice touch.
Then, I began to wonder how useful something like this actually is.
I’ve had a day to digest the news about Madcap Software’s upcoming product releases. I’m still excited, and will definitely be checking out these new offerings when they’re available. But I’ve also been thinking about what these new products mean in a wider context.
My colleague Keith Soltys and I were chatting about this earlier today, and we came to the conclusion that Madcap is trying to take a substantially larger share of the software market for technical communicators. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. As Keith noted in his blog post, though, there may be some concerns about how Madcap will support the new products — at least to the level that customers are used to.
Like many people, when you hear the word DOS you probably cringe. You remember the days when you had to type a bunch of commands to do anything; no graphical point and click there. But, as Cameron Moll discovered, in some cases DOS can be the most efficient user interface for a task.
We also have some product announcements. I’m not saying anything but this is going to really upset the competitors in the industry. The stuff we have planned over the next year is going to make your life so much easier.
I don’t know about the making your life easier part (at least not yet), but the company’s upcoming offerings look really interesting. They include:
- MadCap Team Server, a content management tool.
- MadCap X-Edit and X-Edit Express, a word processor and a reviewing tool, respectively.
- MadCap Press, a page design and layout tool that uses XML.
Oh, and a beta of Blaze is available for download.
Aaron and I will definitely be keeping our eyes on these products. We hope to get our hands on some beta versions when they’re available and will discuss them more both in this space and in our podcast.
If not, then you should consider signing up. Scott Abel (a.k.a. The Content Wrangler) has created a community that’s already attracted almost 1,000 technical communicators from around the world. And it’s only a week or so old.
According to Abel, the community enables you to:
Network with peers. Find jobs. Share information. Start a blog. Upload and watch videos. Join a group. Begin a discussion. Learn about software. Find events. Ask for help.
If nothing else, you can ask and answer questions in a couple of dozen groups, including writing for reuse, blogging, converting legacy documentation to DITA, among others.
To be honest, we have little time for social networking sites (don’t get us started on Facebook …), but we joined the Content Wrangler Community. Why? Unlike most other social networking sites, this one is actually relevant to us and our professional interests.