Understanding XML: A Video and Links to Get You Started

In The Machine is Us/ing Us, Kansas State University’s Dr. Michael Wesch shows how the XML standard separates form from content, making automated data exchange possible. This is what makes it possible for ordinary people who don’t understand how to program code to share so much digital content on the Web, including blog posts.

Who will organize all this data? According to Wesch’s video,  “we will.” His video explains how each time we post or tag information on the web, or provide links between information, we are teaching the Web what ideas we think are important.

In a Web 2.0 world, Wesch also shows that we are no longer just linking information—we are linking people.

I first saw Wesch’s video, and started really considering all its broader implications, about a year ago. It’s kept me thinking a year, and demonstrates the full power of video, as both a teaching and learning tool, in adition to the entertainment tool we usually think of it as.

It also still gives me goosebumps.

What is XML?

XML Strategist columns (from Scriptorium Publishing).

Sarah O’Keefe regularly publishes as the XML Strategist in the Society for Technical Communication’s magazine, Intercom. Her advice covers everything from the implementation of XML in documentation to the application of XML tools and standards.

XML authoring is here to stay (from the Technical Communication Center).

According to Nabil Freij of Global Vision,   “if you are thinking about transitioning to a new authoring system, consider moving to an XML-based system, structured or unstructured.”

XML will enable you to apply structured authoring with DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) when needed in the future allowing single sourcing of your content.

Technical Writing – Why the Future of Documentation Belongs to Extended Markup Language? (from the Technical Communication Center).

According to Ugur Akinci,  “XML, that is, Extended Markup Language, is the future of technical writing.”

Reason #1. XML is at the heart of “single sourcing” movement.

Reason #2  XML is a documentation manager’s dream.

The easiest way to generate an XML document is to use Adobe FrameMaker in its “structured” mode.

Akinci then provides a 12 Step Study Outline for the quickest way to learn FrameMaker-based XML authoring.

What a Technical Writer Should Know About DocBook? (from the Technical Communication Center).

According to Ugur Akinci,  “DocBook is a set of tools for implementing XML (Extended Markup Language)-based structured documentation.”

It is especially well suited for software, hardware and networking documentation.

Making The Move To Creating Structured XML: An Interview with Thomas Aldous (from the Content Wrangler).

ContentWrangler Scott Abel interviews Thomas Aldous of  Integrated Technologies, about XML publishing.

What is Smart Content? (from Gilbane’s XML Technologies and Content Strategies blog).

Dale Waldt describes  “Smart Content,”  “Structured Content,” and “Unstructured Content.” He urges the XML and CMS communities to use “consistent terms when talking about the rigor of their data models and the benefits they hope to achieve with them. These three terms…”can be used productively to differentiate content and application types,” he concludes.

What Constitutes “Intelligent Content”? Interview with Ann Rockley (from Tom Johnson’s I’d Rather Be Writing blog)

In an e-mail interview with Tom Johnson, Ann Rockley of the Rockley Group defines intelligent content, explains the role of the content creator, and describes tools for creating it.

About This Blog: Copyright Information

Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog

2 thoughts on “Understanding XML: A Video and Links to Get You Started

  1. Hi Ugur,

    Thanks for stopping by. I missed that Scriptorium presentation, and I’m glad I was able to catch-up a bit, via your post. Like you, I value Sarah O’Keefe’s obvious expertise and “tell it like it is” approach.

    As you mention in your latest post, DITA Bright Promise. Bumpy Ride, the learning curve required for XML/DITA specialization represents a real personal investment, as well as combined programming and graphic design skills, which again as you point out, are rarer to come across, in one professional.

    XML/DITA transition can also be an expensive process for a company.

    So, as technical communicators keep up on the latest publishing trends, and learn why the benefits of transitioning to structured content outweigh the difficulties in some situations, they’d do well to consider these challenges with open eyes, and the kind of role they can play in this new landscape.

    They’d also do well to learn as much as they can about XML and DITA to remain viable, through sites like your Technical Communication Center and Sarah’s Scriptorium Publishing’s on-demand resources. I’ve already learned a lot from you both, at no cost.

    Thanks again,


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