Which CMS environment interests you most?

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Oct 31, 2013 3:43:00 PM

Which one of the following content management environments interests you most?
Hosted in the cloud
Deployed in your office
No preference
Poll Maker

As part of our ongoing customer engagement, we're planning a series of webinars for current users of RSuite CMS. Our goal is to deliver customer-focused webinars which set the stage for our customers to drive the priorities for the next generation of the RSuite application.

This past Wednesday, October 30, we hosted our quarterly RSuite Customer webinar and this quarter's topic was the future of RSuite. We had great attendance accompanied by great questions. The main theme within each question happened to be about upgrading to our latest version, RSuite 4. This got me thinking about software features that we, in the publishing industry, come in contact with.

We are always interested in what the marketplace is asking for. For instance, which features in a content management system matter most to you and your organization? Do you prefer your content management environment to be hosted in the cloud, deployed in your office, or perhaps you don't have a preference?

We've heard from our clients regarding hosted and deployed environments and now we'd like to hear from our followers. Please participate in the the poll above or comment in the section below.

Topics: RSuite CMS, features, poll, customer webinar

RSI's 5-minute-series: Learn DITA in 5 minutes

Posted by Christopher Hill on Oct 24, 2013 8:59:00 AM

5-minute-series; Learn Dita in 5 MinutesLately I’ve found myself doing more discussion of DITA, so it is time for another in the 5-minute-series. If you are new to XML it might be helpful to start with the previous two posts on XML and Schemas before continuing.

In the previous posts I discussed how XML isn’t a specific language, but is instead a set of rules governing the syntax of languages that may be invented. The invention of XML came out of a need to be able to describe content. Word processors and desktop publishers mostly focused on the formatting of content. When you create new content in these tools you do so as a part of the layout and formatting process. With XML, you instead try to describe what the content you are entering is, for example a paragraph, a chapter, a book, an article, a caption or whatever. 

XML provides a common syntax for creating languages to describe your content, but does not specify the actual grammar. As described in detail in the previous post in this series, XML Schemas or DTDs are used to specify the exact labels and grammar of a particular type of XML.

While you can invent your own labels and grammar based upon XML, doing so means that unless others adopt your format, you will have to customize editing tools to understand your particular vocabulary.

Instead of always creating a vocabulary from scratch, many users of XML instead adopt a shared standard. Standards exist to represent most any data you can think of, whether it be recipes, musical scores, articles, chapters, books or anything else. These standards can be shared, and tools can be created to create, edit, manage and format based on the standard. If a community exists around my particular flavor of XML, we can share tools and techniques that can mean reduced effort required to deploy content solutions.

DITA, an acronym for Darwin Information Typing Architecture, is an XML language that is extensible and can be adapted to a range of uses. DITA is based on the concept of topics. A topic is a unit of information that typically can be read in isolation or inserted into a larger document. In order to stream together topics, DITA uses the concept of a map file. A map file is simply an XML file that acts as a sort of table of contents stringing together a series of topic files.

The term “topic” is generic. DITA allows, however, the generic topic to be adapted to represent more specific structures. The basic DITA specification includes Concept, Task and Reference. These content units are more specific versions of the generic topic. They can be handled with special rules if you want. But if you don’t haven special rules, they can be also treated more generically as topics.

Benefits of a common vocabulary 

Having a common vocabulary means that users of the vocabulary can share information with each other and share tools and code used to handle the content. For example, if you use a DITA-based format, there are a number of editing tools that can be used to edit your content. Tools used to process the content can also be shared. For example, DITA includes the code and stylesheets needed to create PDF, HTML and other output formats, and the community is constantly evolving. New formats may appear and other DITA-based solutions can take advantage of the tools to support the new format without needing to modify their existing processes.

For DITA, the community provides the DITA Open Toolkit. This toolkit includes a variety of transformations that can take DITA content and render it in HTML, PDF, and other formats. It also provides an extensible architecture. If you have a customized version of DITA, you can create a plug-in that can enable DITA solutions to handle the specific requirements of your customizations. Toolkit plugins can be used to configure editing tools, extend the rules of DITA, or modify the included stylesheets used to render content so that they can account for a most specific vocabulary adapted from the base DITA stylesheets. Any DITA tool can process content even if it is based on proprietary extensions because all of those proprietary extensions are mapped to more generic DITA structures. So if I use a DITA-based vocabulary that defines a “chapter,” systems that do no understand “chapter” can always treat the encoded content as a more generic “topic.” 

So while XML is a set of rules for creating a particular language to encode your content, DITA is a particular language that was designed to be able to be extended to more specific uses that still share a common grammar. DITA provides a base set of stylesheets for rendering your content in a variety of specific formats. Many XML tools exist to process any DITA-based document, and most provide extension points so that you can adapt the tool to a more specific DITA-based language without having to start from scratch. 

Tools to edit DITA documents can edit any vocabulary derived from DITA without modification, and can be extended to support more specific vocabulary structures if desired. At RSI Content Solutions we have content management systems with support for DITA that provides a range of features that make it much quicker to deploy a DITA solution without starting from scratch. Our solutions allow editing, transformation, as well as the ability to reuse content in different contexts if needed. So while XML is a set of rules governing the structure of an infinite variety of languages, DITA is a topic-based XML language used for representing content. Although you can use DITA without any modifications, many organizations wish to encode content in less generic manner. DITA has the advantage of allowing more specific content structures to be derived from the existing generic structures if needed. This means that if you need to create an XML vocabulary you aren’t starting from scratch and you are providing a fallback mechanism for systems not aware of the specifics of your particular vocabulary.

Topics: DITA, XML, 5-minute-series

Come to the DocZone DITA Open Toolkit Capabilities Webinar

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Oct 18, 2013 9:00:00 AM

Register for DocZone WebinarBack in September, DocZone DITA exhibited at the CIDM Best Practices Showcase in Savannah, Georgia. We spoke with many of you about your DITA Open Toolkit wants and needs, we spoke with many of you about how you're personally using these capabilities.

Because there is a such a growing need for DITA Open Toolkit plugins in the technical publishing environment, we have scheduled a webinar to inform you on the capabilities that DocZone has to offer.

Attend our DocZone DITA webinar and witness:

      • How DocZone DITA incorporates DITA OTK plugins 
      • XTM capabilities that translate content in more than 250 languages 
      • How simple it is for DocZone to publish to multiple formats with the click of a button 
      • ...and so much more 

We're excited to introduce DocZone DITA's OTK plugin and other capabilities to you. Register for the webinar on October 24 webinar today!

Learn more

Topics: Webinar, DocZone, Open Toolkit, OTK, October 24, Plugins

Observations from Outsell's 2013 Signature Event

Posted by Barry Bealer on Oct 9, 2013 11:29:00 AM

describe the imageI had the opportunity to attend the Outsell Signature Event last week that brings together top executives from the information industry.  As always, everything that Outsell does is top notch and so in an inviting setting and surrounded by movers and shakers in the industry a number of key topics were discussed, debated, and argued.  The event traditionally focuses on all aspects of the information industry and provides an executive level view of the economy, business models, technology adoption, current stress points, and business and technology transformation.

Some random points from the sessions:

    • The economy is going to continue to grow at a relatively slow pace for the next few years and it will be worse if the US government does not address the debt ceiling quickly.
    • Many information providers are being disrupted by the shift to electronic products.  Those who have adopted a more progressive business model are able to weather the storm a bit easier.  Those who are stuck in their old ways are beginning to feel the significant decline of print revenue.
    • Design of electronic products have evolved tremendously with users expecting a clean, functional design.  No longer is it acceptable to have great content and a poor interface.
    • Software vendors are also feeling the disruptions with changing software licensing models.  The need to have an a la carte license model is a requirement, not an option.
    • Transformation is not an option anymore.  Too many variables are changing at breakneck speed and an organization needs to be ready to change or face the inevitable decline.
    • Wearable technology is really cool and will take some time to be adapted but don't be surprised if you are wearing a small device (e.g., watch, pin, earring) within the next decade that is attached to the internet in some way.

While RSuite CMS was not front and center at this conference as an exhibitor, it was interesting to speak with publishers who continue to be challenged by managing a large (dare I say big data) set of disparate content.  

Publishers realize that content management software is an absolute necessity to transforming their organization, and I believe executive management understands the larger problem is with their processes and culture.  The culture (i.e., people) side of transformation is probably the most challenging and will continue to require a significant investment of time and money to address. The process side of transformation is a bit easier because everyone wants to make their jobs easier and more efficient.  It is great to finally hear executives say that XML content management is no longer a "nice to have" but a necessity in business transformation to meet multi-channel publishing goals. Fortunately, RSuite CMS is positioned very well to help out publishers in their transformation.

I look forward to the meeting next year.

Topics: RSuite, content management, Outsell

More than just content management

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Oct 3, 2013 9:04:00 AM

RSuite CMS | Enterprise Content Management for PublishersI recently read a post by CMS Critic's Holly Write which made me think. Today's content needs to be managed by more than just a straw man content management system. Content comes in all shapes and sizes because no one works from just one program or machine. Whether its an Adobe InDesign file or a Word file, the CMS that your content lives in needs to be more robust than ever. It needs to handle authoring, editing, production, distribution, and of course storage.

Until now, this type of content management system was nearly unheard of. Aside from it being flat-out non-existent, if it did exist, it would be clunky, ugly, and no one who needed to work in it would be able do so. It would simply be too hard for someone without a technical background to operate. Holly Write from CMS Critic stated, "One of the biggest reasons that companies invest in content management systems is to allow their less technical users to manage content." When a publisher explores the possibility of purchasing a content management system, among other things, they look for:

      • ease of use
      • minimal learning curve
      • a beautiful user interface
The easier system is out of the box, the less amount of work needs to be done on their end, and the easier worker's lives are. There are many content management systems in this world, but RSuite CMS is the only content management system for publishers that manages content and digital assets from creation and continues managing it all up to the point distribution (it even includes task management).

Interested in seeing how RSuite CMS manages content for publishers? Schedule a demo now.


 Schedule Demo

Topics: RSuite CMS, CMS, content, management, CMS Critic

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