February 3, 2016 2:20 pm Published by

DITAworks offers substantial benefits in DITA content authoring. DITA authoring has 2 essential components: DITA maps and DITA topics. DITA map organizes how and which topics will be used to have a DITA document. DITAworks provides drag and drop function for editing maps visually. DITA topics are the information units which make up a DITA document. You can accomplish the task of quality DITA content authoring very easily through DITAworks using its WYSIWYG author, content reuse mechanism, validation, extended preview and link management functions. And once documentation has been authored, you can localize it and publish it to several output formats.

In realistic terms though, you might have written great content with all the DITA authoring benefits but if it is not reaching the right people in the right format, it won’t ever reach its intended goal. Your content is as good as your content distribution strategy. The distribution strategy broadly will detail how and which information you can distribute to the intended users in a controlled and auditable manner. Let us take a look at some of the distribution scenarios which you can consider in your distribution strategy.

  • Traditional ink on paper form
  • PDF documents
  • Web-based publishing using HTML or HTML5
  • Mobile optimized publishing
  • Online help systems like Eclipse information centers or Java help platforms
  • ECM or LMS systems
  • Web Portals

All of them have their merits and suitability depending on the audience intended. But for this article, let us go further into the portals as a distribution mechanism for your DITA content.

What is a portal?
The definition of portal has also evolved over the years and the current usage of a portal is to define a particular website which collects information from different sources and dispenses this information in the form of categorized and personalized content. It can be made available to users and interest groups in the internet openly or through authorization by a login or internally in an organization’s intranet.
Information from different sources can be presented in their respective areas, called portlets, and users can engage in certain actions depending on their role.
The key functions of a portal are:

  • information integration
  • search and navigation
  • personalization
  • notification
  • task management and workflow
  • collaboration
  • integration with business applications
  • infrastructure functionality

Why should I use a portal to distribute my DITA content?
Portals hold a definite advantage over some of the distribution mechanisms. Some of these advantages are:

  • Universal availability: Information is available to interest groups at the same point in time.
  • Selective distribution: Documentation can be provided on a “need to know” basis.
  • Uniformly organized content: Information is organized in a uniform way.
  • Topic level distribution: DITA content can be presented on the topic level for easier comprehension.
  • Efficient search: Relevant content can quickly be searched and found by users.
  • Collaboration: Actions and collaborative function related to content pieces can be enabled.
  • Auditability: Auditability can be ensured by effective document control.
  • Collective library: DITA based documentation available in same place as information from other sources.
  • Personalization of information: Users can voluntarily personalize information and make use of additional suggested information.
  • Interaction and feedback: Messaging and notification enables more feedback regarding content.
  • Automated content adaptation: content can be automatically adapted based on personalization, location and other specific preferences.

How does DITAworks manage distribution of my content to a portal?
Distributing your content to a particular portal can be accomplished by a few easy steps in DITAworks CMS.
In the following example, we are using DITAworks Webtop portal connector which is pre-configured for Liferay portal. In a few clicks and with minimal input, you can connect your DITA content to Liferay web portal. You just have to add the portal publishing engine to your project in settings and provide specific parameters for your portal to the publishing configuration. You can change this configuration anytime again.
Configuration profile for publishing to Liferay portal

Configuration profile for publishing to Liferay

After running the publishing process, your content will directly appear in your portal and your users can access the content through a predefined URL.

DITA content published to Liferay portal

Through the navigation tree on the left side, the users can navigate to your project. Each document of your project is presented by a tab in the top navigation. These users are then able to work with this content as per their roles e.g. viewing the topic, commenting on topics or deleting the entire document etc. The roles and privileges of the users can be customized.
To summarize this article, portals can play a very important role in distributing your content and based on DITA’s emphasis on productivity, efficiency and personalization, they seem to be a right fit. They can give your quality content the legs to take it to the right places. And DITAworks, with its connector to the portals, makes this possible for you in its usual convenient and efficient manner.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss about the use of portals in DITA content distribution, please contact us.

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