Monthly Archives: June 2006

talk.bmc

Controversial ITIL blog asks the reality check questions

Taking a look at the ITIL Skeptic and his links

I stumbled across The ITIL Skeptic’s blog today, reading on digg.com. An entry about the seeming impossibility of creating and maintaining a useful CMDB (Configuration Management Database) as defined by ITIL was an interesting read. But I suppose one answer is, don’t make it a behemoth, keep it manageable with federation? Or perhaps the heart of the argument lies in the definition from ITIL? At any rate, I found the post to be informative and thought-provoking.

The ITIL Skeptic chooses to keep his or her identity a “secret” but is apparently not a former BMC employee. I do appreciate a skeptic’s viewpoint as I continue to learn about ITIL and the CMDB since I still feel like a newbie on the topic. Plus, as a vendor we ought to be sure we pay attention to the skeptics.

Especially valuable to me as I continue to learn is the list of links included on the site. Here are the blog titles and links. I was going to offer up an OPML file with subscriptions but it seems that some of them aren’t syndicated, so I’ll work more on that later.

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How much markup is enough for a wiki?

The answer is, it depends

I noticed that the MSDN wiki for Visual Studio has just three markup tags for content edits. It appears you get basically three tags: heading, body, and code. Now, in their case, they have strictly defined what they intend for users to enter in their wiki, which is intended to contain mostly code snippets that support the reference documentation. I believe limiting the tag set helps when the intended content is narrowly defined.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, my thoughts on a DITA Wiki tool would allow for many many tags to be used, in fact, all the tags that DITA allows could be used in a DITA-based Wiki. Would this freedom to tag cause fewer people to contribute? Or would the contributions be all the richer and fuller due to the ability to write just what you need to for that particular topic? Let me know what you think.

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Troubleshooting tip for the DITA Open Toolkit installation

Finally figured out the fix for my DITA Open Toolkit “resource/messages.xml” not found error

Thanks to David Brainard for figuring out the basic problem! At BMC, we all have a Documentum client installed on our desktops, so with the 4i client, my Classpath contained C:\Program Files\Documentum\Shared\dfc.jar. Apparently there is a collision of some sort between Documentum’s dfc.jar and DITA’s lib\dost.jar in the classpath which prevented the DITA Open Toolkit from running, manifesting itself as errors finding resource\messages.xml.

In my case, the fix was to remove the reference to C:\Program Files\Documentum\Shared\dfc.jar from my Classpath environment variable. Since this discovery, I’ve upgraded to Documentum 5 client, and there is no longer a collision. The Documentum 5 client inserted “C:\Program Files\Documentum\dctm.jar” in my classpath, but the DITA Open Toolkit doesn’t seem to mind that.

Apparently other applications can be “classpath hogs” so to speak, so if you get a “can’t find resource\messages.xml” error message, remove other items from your Classpath variable one-by-one until you find the culprit. In my case, we created a simple “run.bat” file that contained only:

set CLASSPATH=C:\saxon\saxon.jar;C:\ant\apache-ant-1.6.5;\lib\dost.jar;.

ant demo.faq

Couple of notes about this batch file – the dot at the end is for your current directory. We chose to do ant demo.faq rather than ant all because it won’t take as long if the build is successful. An “ant all” build can take anywhere from 2-13 minutes.

By setting the classpath just for this session and running this batch file within the DITA-OT-1.2.2 directory, we could pinpoint that it was my Classpath that was the issue, and then remove entries one by one. It’s a handy troubleshooting tip. Thanks again Dave!

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Acapulco, Baby!

Just returned from a neat Corporate Recognition Event

BMC Software rewards its Research and Development employees with inspiring trips and this year I was honored to be selected to go! We took over 400 pictures and I’m still sorting through them all online, but here are a few pictures.

What did I learn while I was there? That BMC has some of the smartest people in the business and that I really need to learn a second language, starting with Spanish. I was impressed with all of our global employees who know several languages and communicate easily using two or three languages. I also learned how to do sand sculptures as a team building event. Check out the professional sand sculptor’s work.

I want to publicly express my gratitude to BMC for such a nice way of saying thanks both to us who work here and the significant others who support us as partners, parents, and siblings. Thanks!

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Tips for those pesky vssver.scc files

Batch changes to mark files as hidden makes life a little easier when using Visual Source Safe and Dreamweaver to edit HTML files

I author online Help in Dreamweaver and use Visual Source Safe (VSS) to store the HTML content files. When you use VSS, each directory contains a vssver.scc file for version tracking. That extra file always seems “pesky” to me when I cruise through the site views in Dreamweaver, so I found a way to hide them.

You can use a simple DOS command to change the vssver.scc files to hidden files, so that Dreamweaver will not show them while you’re looking at the Site view. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. From the Start menu, choose Run.
  2. Type cmd and click OK to open a DOS prompt.
  3. Switch directories to the top-level directory for the help system in which you want to hide the VSS files.
  4. At the prompt, type the following line:
  5. ATTRIB +H *.scc /S

    Example:

    D:\Data\help_onl>ATTRIB +H *.scc /S
  6. Press Enter to change all the vssver.scc files to hidden files.

Some additional notes:

  • The opposite of this command is ATTRIB -H *.scc /S to make all the hidden .scc files viewable.
  • For even more background information on vssver.scc files, refer to this Microsoft Knowlege Base article. In a nutshell, the vssver.scc files are used to speed up GET processes, and hiding them has no affect on performance.
  • To delete all the .scc files in all the directories, a similar command can be used:
  • DEL *.scc /S
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Visualization of tags used in web sites

Interesting to visualize how many tags and what types of tags are used on any web site

While reading some Austin-based blogs I found “Websites as graphs,” a Java applet that reads all the tags used in a website and colorcodes and graphs them showing the relationships and nesting. The result is similar to organic floral structures and the coded complexity of a website is immediately apparent when you look at these graphics.

After entering BMC.com, I see it looks much like the CNN portal site, containing a yellow cluster of forms but mostly blue “flowers” containing link tags with some tables for layout. Little use of the <div> tag, but nested in such a way it’s likely a nice elegant use of <div>.

Visualizations such as these don’t always increase understanding when they stand alone. It’s better to compare to others, which is why I like the list of graphics he has on the” Websites as graphs,” page. Boingboing.net is my favorite with one bright firework-like burst of thousands of links. It is, after all, “a directory of wonderful things.”

We’ve been doing some modeling of deliverables, and I do wonder if a visual representation would be helpful here. Sometimes the Table of Contents is the best visual representation you can get. Other times an Index is a somewhat visual representation of the content. I wonder if a better visual representation of content could be on the horizon with topic-based authoring.