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DITA Topic Specialization

Creating specialized topics for your content: an IBM developerWorks article.

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Many great resources are available to explain the mechanics and syntax of specializing the standard DITA DTDs for your content—for example, Michael Priestley's Specializing topic types in DITA and Eliot Kimber's DITA specialization. However, I didn't see any that walk readers through the process of reviewing their existing content, evaluating its fit with the various DITA topic types, and then designing and building a DITA specialization around the needs and structure of their content, so I wrote the IBM developerWorks tutorial DITA topic specialization: Analyze your content and build a specialized DTD.

That's not exactly my original subtitle, but they just love that second person voice at developerWorks, especially in the imperative.The article now has a lot more of that than I originally put there; maybe I should reread Bright Lights Big City before I write another tutorial for developerWorks.

Nah, I don't think so.


(Note: I usually close comments for an entry a few weeks after posting it to avoid comment spam.)

This tutorial raises the whole problem of IBM "tutorials", for me. Since you obviously have some relationship with the people in control of this model of article presentation, I'll briefly mention my concerns.

The tutorials require an IBM account to access. That's IBM's choice, fine, but in as much as many of the tutorials seem to vary insignificantly from other IBM article content that is not account-restricted, what's the point? For the reader, it's just extra hassle (including an extra set of credentials to remember) to sign on.

Worse, the authentication process is frustratingly involved. Accessing your article above, I first had to authenticate via a page form. Thereupon, I'm asked for the 16 bazillionth time to verify my personal information -- an extra scroll down and click-through, not to mention that it's an unprompted echoing of my personal information over the wire. After this authentication, I'm prompted for ID and password TWICE MORE, each time my request redirects from one IBM server to another.

I seem to recall having dumped a comment on this process, at least once before, into whatever designated IBM feedback mechanism, but to no effect. If you happen to read this and to agree that the above is cumbersome, could you please pass on this request to the relevant IBM parties, to "get a clue" about these "tutorials" and their annoying form of presentation (namely the annoying and cumbersome authentication)? Thanks very much.

Thanks, I've already passed it along to my editor at developerWorks.