Countdown to the Content Management Strategies/DITA North America Conference

There’s just a few days to go before the big Content Management Strategies/DITA North America Conference in La Jolla, California. Am looking forward to presenting the keynote talk there, and to meet with other people in the industry and learn about the latest developments in DITA and technical documentation practice in general.

I have learned a lot by going to these conferences over the years — not just about the evolution of the DITA XML standard and the various types of software tools out there, but also how technical documentation is done at other companies, and to put faces to the names of people I had previously only known about through DITA- and CMS-related discussion forums.

About six years ago the main theme of most of the presentations I attended were either about how to learn about this relatively new thing called DITA, the ways to optimize content re-use, and how to make an effective Return on Investment (R.O.I.) argument to upper management for Content Management Systems. For those companies who have not yet taken the plunge these topics are still valid, but many companies that attended those conferences back then are at a mature stage in their development, and are looking for fresh ways to further improve their processes, especially if they can make a better connection with their user base. This is certain one theme I plan on talking about at my presentation, and I am particularly interested in hearing more from the other speakers at the conference.

There are several presentations I am particularly interested in attending, either because I know the presenter always has something interesting to say, or that the subject of the presentation is intriguing. Here’s my short-list of some of the talks I am currently planning on attending:

Why Would We Want to Talk to Customers or Them to Us?, Ian Ampleford and Peter Jones, ARM
Thanks to my working relationship with ARM I have had access to some of the interview materials, and the results are very interesting indeed. This is a customer survey done right, and ought to serve as a good guide to those trying to do the same thing.

Apple iPad Publishing Best Practices, Jim Nasr, Armedia
Given that the iPad is increasingly the medium of choice for those reading electronic-based docs of all sorts while on the go, this is of particular interest.

HTML5 for Publications: Applying emerging Web technologies to DITA-based publications, Eliot Kimber, Really Strategies
Eliot is a strong advocate for DITA, and I am interested in hearing more about how the HTML5 standard can be made to work with DITA. Am guessing this presentation may also point the way to likely future proposals and developments in the DITA specification.

DITA with Tiers, Don Day, Learning by Wrote
If there’s anyone out there who can be called the “Father of DITA XML”, it has to be Don. He’s been with it since its beginnings at IBM, and if there is anyone who has a deeper knowledge of the subject, I have yet to meet them. He always gives a good presentation and I am looking forward to seeing what he has to say.

Measurable Success with a DITA CMS: Epson America, Nancy Thompson, Epson America and Dan Dube, Really Strategies Inc.
As someone interested in DITA-related metrics, this looks like the one to attend during this session at the end of the day.

Get Testy With Your DITA, Mark Lewis, Quark Inc.
This is one of those occasions where I wish I could send clones of myself to attend the other sessions happening at the same time as this one at the beginning of the day, but Mark wins out for me as he is a good presenter and always has interesting experiences to talk about. Again, if you are interested in DITA metrics, this is the one for you.

Avoiding DITA Spaghetti, Jang Graat, JANG Communication
Jang is a great speaker, and in the past has had some very interesting things to say about things like DITA constraints. Am intrigued by his subject, which looks at instances of “sub-topic level reuse”.

Integrated DITA: Social, mobile, and context-aware content strategy, Noz Urbina, Mekon Ltd.
Noz was interviewed on this blog a while ago, and I know he has some very interesting experiences and information to share on connecting DITA to social media mechanisms in a way that holds real promise. Am definitely attending this one.

The Path from DITA to EDEN, Andrzej Zydroń, XTM-INTL
Another terrific and knowledgeable speaker, I have always found Andrzej Zydroń’s talks worth attending. This one looks to “streamline” DITA to its essentials, a subject I am particularly interested in.

Beauty and the Beast: Two radically different paths to DITA, Joe Gollner, Gnostyx Research
Again, this is another case of where I would love to have clones to send out to the other presentations, but Joe Gollner edges out the others for me in terms of his subject matter — edge cases for DITA implementation — and the fact that I know he is a great speaker.

Real Life Usage of DITA 1.2 Linking Features, Jean-François Ameye, IXIASOFT
Am interested in this talk not just because of the subject, but because I have extensively used Ixiasoft’s DITA CMS in the past and am interested in hearing more about future development.

There are certainly other talks I am planning on attending, but for me these are the ones I really intend to make a point of going to.

Look for future updates on this blog next week as I summarize the key points of the more interesting presentations I manage to attend.

Hope to see you there!


"DITAWriter" is Keith Schengili-Roberts. I work for IXIASOFT as a DITA Specialist/Information Architect. And I like to write about DITA and the technical writing community. To get ahold of me you can email me at:

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