Monthly Archives: October 2006


I’m going on maternity leave any day now

This blog will be in good hands while I’m away, though

My due date’s next week and I am looking forward to welcoming a fourth member to our family – I should be the mom of two sons before next week is through. Wish me luck. I’m sure I’ll wish for some sleep every once in a while.

I didn’t use the new service, where you can hire folks to create content for you while you’re out. Instead, I’ve got guest bloggers from BMC lined up for my maternity leave. So keep reading and keep that subscription! I’ll be back next year.

DITA talk.bmc

My persona for topic authoring

Eye-opening look at my own persona – using my job description to write use cases for what we’ll look for in a DITA-based workflow for topic authoring

In a planning meeting for creating our new topic-oriented workflows and processes as Agile user stories, we created a persona for what my role could be as a “Designer” of a new way to write information. Say, that’s me! It was entertaining to read about my persona. I share it with you in an attempt to describe what an information designer or architect role may be like. We’re using personae as a means to gather requirements for new tools and infrastructure for topic authoring with DITA. So here goes:

Designer – Let’s call her “Denise.”

She is an experienced writer, has likely been at BMC longer than 5 years. She’s independent so she might be hard to manage. (editor’s note: I beg to differ!) She’s your “Guru” writer, a leader/advocate/evangelist and power user. She’s an early adopter of most all technology and DITA and XML knowledgeable. She’s quite knowledgeable about the BMC infrastructure related to tech pubs. She likely has some lightweight development skills such as scripting and is tool-savvy. She’s innovation-focused, always looking for technology improvements, and a big picture person, which makes her process driven and organized.

Yes, indeed, I resemble that persona. And I didn’t even write this persona, a group of IT folks and writers wrote this persona. Very interesting to have a mirror of yourself written down, but boy, do I resemble these remarks.

XML editor evaluations related to DITA

We’re evaluating software tools for XML authoring and use cases and persona are a great way to start looking at how the future of techpubs will shape itself. It’s a similar approach to the authoring scenarios that Don Day advocates when evaluating DITA editors. I’ll write a few use cases that we’re considering for authors in another blog entry so stay tuned if you’re interested in evaluation methods for software programs.


Nifty tools

Open a DOS command prompt from Windows Explorer – how have I been missing out on this tool? And the Google Docs & Spreadsheets tool is a great idea.

Not long ago, I was tipped off to a handy add-on tool for Windows XP that lets you right click and open a DOS command window in the context of a folder you right-click in Windows Explorer. It’s called, simply, “Open Command Window Here” and you can download it from Microsoft’s PowerToys for Windows XP page.

Here’s a screenshot showing the context menu.

For working on batch files, testing Ant scripts, FTPing files, or just about anything that requires a command prompt this is a great shortcut. And check out the other PowerToys like the Alt-Tab replacement which gives you a thumbnail view of the application window when you press Alt-Tab. Nifty!

Now after reading Steve Carl’s Google Office Beta post and Writely and Friends post, I’ve got some more tools to play with some more! I have been working with Google Spreadsheets and find them great with only one more feature I want — I want that drag-and-fill feature that Excel has where your formulas are calculated all the way down a row. I’ve got a shared spreadsheet for doing mortgage qualification calculations. I think anyone can have access to it which is a very cool feature, I think. Google Spreadsheets had all the financial formulas I needed to re-create an Excel spreadsheet I made and since I’ve shared it with friends and family often, it seemed like the perfect candidate for sticking into Google Spreadsheets. So there you go, a practical application of a collaborative tool.


Learning more about identity management

Today I noticed a link from the website to an identity primer of sorts, and found a bunch of information on how to run an identity aware business. Somesh Singh’s podcast is one offering and well worth listening to.

On an introductory level for web identity, I just watched the neatest presentation from OSCON 2005 — Identity 2.0 and how the concept of digital identity is evolving by Dick Hardt, founder and CEO of Sxip Identity.

I don’t mean to gush, but I have never seen a cooler dynamic presentation using screens with such perfect timing between slides (apparently he used Keynote but you could do the same with PowerPoint.) Just watch the first ten minutes or so and you will be amazed. Heck, after just two minutes my husband started watching it over my shoulder.

John Udell, screencaster master, says “I watched it twice, and greatly enjoyed it both times.” It’s hard to describe why it works so well, but he’s using one word per slide or one graphic per slide and a fast pace but the messages and concepts really stick with you. Great educational piece about identity management especially for the web but with lessons we all can learn about how serious identity management is for success with business service management. An enjoyable Friday afternoon break!

DITA talk.bmc

A new DITA Open Toolkit release and brand new DITA newbie blog

A couple of blog-worthy items in the DITA world

Just announced last week, the DITA Open ToolKit has a version 1.3 release available now. One exciting addition for those of us who have struggled with the installation process is an all-inclusive installation package for the Open Tool Kit with everything but Java. Robert Anderson describes it in this post to the dita-users Yahoo group. I need to dig into it further, but he describes a new DITA Open Tool Kit Evaluation document that should be interesting to read. This Open Tool Kit release contains a preliminary interpretation of the DITA 1.1 specification so processing of 1.1 elements should work with this release.

I think the author of this new DITA Diary blog that I stumbled across today will be a perfect candidate for trying out the evaluation instructions. It’s neat when two discoveries on the same day seem so relevant to each other.