From Crawley with Love

As you already know, this year we were exhibiting and presenting at the Congility conference in Crawley, UK.

This was our first time there, and I’ve never regretted we were a part of this amazing event. The organization was just great, and all the presentations I attended were extremely interesting and useful. We’ve got many contacts, both leads and prospective partners, which I believe, we can convert to relationships beneficial for everyone. And it seems visitors really liked the authentic Israeli chalva that we brought to our stand!

Like I said, I found all the presentations very interesting, but there were some of them that I found especially useful:

  • Marketing Collateral and Technical Documentation meet: How to Single Source DITA Content in InDesign and Why” by Soren Weimann. The presenter who works for Napatech explained how they implemented a publishing solution based on InDesign. Soren’s team realized that the content written in DITA can be also beneficial for their colleagues from the marketing department. The major challenge was to allow the marketing guys to transform DITA content to nicely designed marketing datasheets. So they set up a workflow that enabled them to create templates in InDesign, import DITA to InDesign, and then produce a PDF. This is not the first time when I see InDesign used as a PDF publishing engine for DITA (some of our customers implemented similar solutions) so it was very interesting to see how it’s done at Napatech.
  • Overview of DITA 1.3” by Kristen James Eberlein who is Chair of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee. Kristen gave an interesting overview of how DITA evolved, what challenges the OASIS Technical Committee  was facing with DITA 1.2, and of course, summarized all major features that will be available in DITA 1.3: scoped keys, an ability to associate different DITAVALs with different topic collections in a map, a new Troubleshooting specialization (like many others, we had to create our own Troubleshooting specialization for one of our customers), and others.
  • How to Easily Publish Content from Your CCMS and Fully Benefit from Your Metadata with DITAweb” by Mark Poston of Mekon. Mark demonstrated a product developed by Mekon and called DITAweb. DITAweb is a web-based output platform that lets content consumers easily navigate through the content in a way they want, create their own personalized deliverables, and review content online. Very impressive!

You can download all presentations from here (when they are available, of course).

On a side note, I liked a lot Crawley, a town (by the way, do you know the difference between town and city?) where Congility took place. I’ve spent some time after the conference days walking around, and it was just great! I never take my camera to business trips so I had to use my smartphone to take pictures. Not the best way to make photos, but can give you a rough idea what it looks like…

 

 

 

 

On another side note, if you’re in Crawley and looking for a place to have a lunch or dinner, go for Ask Italian. One of their calzones with a glass of Primitiv wine (the name assumes it’s simple, but it has a very rich taste) will make your day. And if you are looking for a pub, go to The Old Punch Bowl, it’s the oldest pub in the town!

And on a final side note, our special thanks go to Noz Urbina (who invited us) and Mekon team. The very special thanks go to Georgina Johnson of Mekon who was a great help in setting up our stand. Thank you!

One Thought on “From Crawley with Love

  1. Thanks for the mention. I’m glad my presentation was useful.

    I also found both Kristen Eberlein and Mark Postons presentations very good.
    I’m looking very much forward to DITA 1.3 which will allow me to process the same topic several times in the same deliverables – but in different variants – both with the use of keyconrefs and filtering. That is something I have been longing for since I was introduced to DITA 5 years ago.
    I have seen Mark Posten’s various presentations of DITAweb a number of times. It always leaves me wanting to push management even more towards investing in this delivery platform – and I do believe we will get there eventually. :-) It will enhance our delivery of user assistance to external customer as well as internal review process greatly.

    I also want to mention Priscilla Buckley’s (SAP) presentation ‘And now for the fun stuff: dynamic user assistance’. SAP has made some fairly straight forward but highly effective enhancements to their HTML output. Especially the ‘datatable’ that allows interactivity in big complex tables. The best news is that Priscilla Buckley will look into whether SAP would be willing to donate this to the DITA OT. :-)

    Marli Mesibov (Independent Consultant) gave a great presentation about why we are challenged when trying to break down the silos in an organization: ‘Out of the silos and into the farm’.

    Also, your own presentation ‘Organizing DITA content for better availability’, Alex, was very rewarding. Eventhough we have recently purchased a CCMS other than DITAtoo, your presentation provide good insights into metadata strategy and content organization.

    Noz Urbina (Urbina Consulting) gave a very unusual presentation for this kind of conference with ‘The biological imperative for intelligent content: Why nature says we should give content more agility’. Much more about brain research than about content – and then again?! It provided good insights into why we perceive the way we do, and why it so difficult break down ‘an understanding of how the world is’, when it turns out we were wrong. My immediate thought was that this was really valuable knowledge when e.g. planning a training session on topic based writing with sementic tagging for an audience that is used to deliverable style writing in a layout based tool.

    Both Dawn Stevens (Comtech) and Ellis Pratt (Cherryleaf) gave good presentations on metrics in content development. I cannot stress the usefulness of metrics enough. But do not make the mistake of doing metrics for management only. This will most commonly make writers prioritize what is measured over good content creation. Make metrics that are useful the guys who’s work is being measured – stress the point that KPIs are Key Performance Indicators. They are a ‘key’ – meaning important, but not the full picture. And they are ‘indicators’ – meaning ‘what we can measure’, not the truth.

    There were many more good presentations, and with three simultaneous tracks also good stuff that I missed. But a great conference.

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