Saturday, November 4, 2017

Structured Authoring and XML

The field of Technical Writing has evolved over the years. Documentation has become one of the main quality checks with a software or engineering products. Now, when technical writing has become that important, many tools got written or evolved over the years.

One of the main reasons why this evolvement was done was that content was always growing in volumes and besides the maintenance imbroglio, the constant repetition of content was also becoming tedious to manage.

Thus, people began to think about structured authoring where topic-based authoring is done and each topic is stored as a separate entity. A separate entity can be used wherever needed.

Introduction to Structured Authoring

Structured authoring and XML are generally an integral part of content creation today. Together they create a new paradigm of content authoring in which each part of the document is free and yet glued to a document.

Basically, Structured Authoring is nothing but an arrangement of topics in a structured way which when put together makes good sense. Since these topics are freely arranged in an XML file, they can be referenced from any other document. Thus you write them once and use them wherever you like.

The metadata and content reuse are some of the main reasons why businesses are opting for Structured Authoring. In early days, XML writing was difficult as one had to write code to keep the content in shape but today, most of the Structured Authoring tools are developed with WYSIWYG concept.

What is Structured Authoring

Structured Authoring is a way to enforce rules to maintain consistency. When multiple people work in a team, their writing style and formatting preferences are different. One would be a fan of Calibri font while the other could be in love with Arial. Now, when documents roll out of an organization, they cannot have different style and font for that matter. This is why Structured Authoring is implemented in which styles are set with DTD (Data Type Definition) so the writer will only focus on writing while the Structured Authoring Tool will use the DTD and produce output in a format, defined in the DTD.

Please watch this space for more details on Structured Authoring.

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