We Must Remove Publishing and Content Management Concerns from Authoring Systems

In a comment on my Content Wrangler article, It’s Time to Start Separating Content from BehaviorLaura Creekmore said (emphasis mine):

[T]his conversation has brought to mind some thoughts I’ve had recently, and I think this is an even more difficult issue. Because eventually, we’re going to come up with all the technological fixes we need to resolve the issues above. However, right now, content management systems have already outstripped the technical interests and abilities of the majority of content creators and subject matter experts with whom I work. [And no, I’m not slamming my clients here. :) They are really smart people.] When we require advanced technical knowledge in addition to advanced subject knowledge in order to fully take advantage of the capabilities of our content systems, we’re not going to get the results we want. We have to NOT ONLY figure out how to do this, but we ALSO have to figure out how to make it easy and intuitive. I will say, I also don’t mean to slam these efforts — they are critical steps, and this is essential thinking. I’m just saying, please, let’s not stop this effort once we’ve made something POSSIBLE [as we have done with so many current CMS]. Let’s not stop until we’ve made it a reality for all content creators. read more

Time for Content Management to Come out of the Closet

Two recent blog posts, Structured Content is Like Your Closet by Val Swisher, and Content Strategy Can Save Us All From Slobdom by Meghan Casey, both illustrate how content management works today by analogy with a well organized closet. It is a perfect metaphor for current content management practice, and provides the perfect starting point for examining what is wrong with the current state of content management, and why (as I noted previously) people hate their CMS.

A Reference is Not a Topic

Continuing my reconsideration of concept, task, and reference as cardinal topic types, this post is about reference. I planned to call it “A Reference is Not a Table”, as I promised in The Tyranny of the Terrible Troika, but thinking more about it I realized that the issue is really much broader than  that. The real issue is that a reference is not a topic at all, it’s a database.

Structured Writing is not Desktop Publishing plus Angle Brackets

What constitutes a “real” XML editor? The question is perennial, but is made topical by Tom Aldous’ surprisingly shrill defense of FrameMaker as an XML editor. It is unusual for a market-leading company to indulge in myth-busting aimed at tiny competitors. It is an approach more common to the small and desperate. But if we look past the oddness of Adobe employing this tactic, we see that the question of whether FrameMaker is a real XML editor, as with almost all debates about what makes a “real” anything, is not a debate about the product’s features, but a debate about what “real” means in the context. read more