Re: [EXT]: [dita-users] Visualizing reltables

Joe Pairman

Well said, Wayne. Organizations use DITA in all sorts of ways for different situations.

Back on reltables specifically, I wanted to echo your earlier point that reltables do not eliminate the issues around maintaining links. They do consolidate those issues into fewer objects though, which can help.

In terms of visualizing structure, I really like the clear document that Mona shared. I would also point out though that you do not necessarily need to keep the task - concept - reference structure in your reltables, with their reciprocal links and default output. If you are info typing your topics in a different way, or if info type groups are not so relevant to display in the generated links, you can use a different structure.

Something that worked well for an implementation I did in the past was to have two columns only: source and target (there is an attribute to set on the columns to make the links behave this way). Then it is extremely clear for authors what topic links to what other one, and how.

(As to my personal preferences for links, I do feel there are cases where you need a good old hypertext type of approach: an inline link pointing to a clearly described target and saying why it's linking there. Very manual, though you can streamline and safeguard the process a bit. But high value for cases where a topic to topic link, or a purely metadata-generated one, would not be precise enough. I have done metadata-based fully automated links too and they can be great. But sometimes you can't beat a clearly labelled inline link).

On Fri, Jul 31, 2020 at 1:41 PM Wayne Brissette <wbrisett@...> wrote:

Melanie Polutta wrote on 2020-07-30 19:35:
> Well, I didn't intend to start a philosophical discussion.
I don't think you did. What you discovered though is DITA is different
to everybody. That is the beauty behind it. For some people and
companies, it's an alternative authoring system. For others, it's a way
to provide information that their customers need, using things other
than traditional publication systems. And therein lies the 'magic' of
XML and DITA. We're doing a lot more automation so we aren't using DITA
as the source of truth anymore. Instead we use it as the common platform
that allows us to publish, validate, and ensure we provide exactly what
is expected to our customers. Since we're not using DITA strictly as an
authoring platform, the rules about what is considered 'best practice'
is slightly different to us. Jang takes this way beyond where we
currently feel comfortable, but he's not wrong. Nor are those who are
using DITA as an authoring platform to simply replace traditional tools
like Word and FrameMaker in the Tech Comm space. We all have varied
needs and those needs change as the industry moves forward and as the
types of information we deliver changes.


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