Alex Masycheff of WritePoint Ltd and Andy Lewis of RADVISION presented the DITA solution to the RADVISION documentation set. 30 conditionals were being managed at RADVISION to produce for combinations of documentation. Alex led the session with the DITA implementation design, which took unstructured FrameMaker v7.2 files into structured DITA, and ultimately into XML.
RADVISION’s requirement was to produce multiple pdfs and multiple online help files, reusing existing information chunks. Using the DITA solution, RADVISION can do a task, one that previously took a week to implement, and do it in one day. Impressive guys!
Kudos RADVISION. The original documentation going into the project was of the highest quality, all appropriately styled. Because they had quality documentation going in, the transition to DITA was smooth.
I wonder, though, how scary this approach might be to a technical writer that focuses solely on content. I asked Andy after the session how hard it was for his team to cope with the “programmer-like” aspects of DITA. He said his team embraced the tools, some for the good and some for the better. On the whole, this is a great solution for RADVISION.
I had the opportunity to speak with a writer from CheckPoint who told me they were transitioning to Author-It. He said that his team were not programmers and had no desire to become programmers. Author-It brought them the closest to an XML solution without having to learn a new language.
With all the products and approaches in the market today it is clear that a company, with in depth analysis of their documentation needs, can find a near-perfect solution.