DITA, Blaze, and more

We’ve been deluged with requests for more information about what we’re doing with DITA since the email that went out this week.

So here’s what I can say right now:

Nothing.

You have to wait until Oct 29, like everyone else.

I’m sorry.

But it’s going to be cool, so take a deep breath. It’s all good. Really. Have a cookie and be patient.

And as you eat that cookie, here’s something cool about Blaze.

Blaze tip but first a story

One of the features I really like in Blaze requires a short story to contextualize why I like this feature so much.

When I was docs manager at my previous job, I had 13 writers scattered all over the world. When I started, we had a Frame template but it wasn’t branded and hadn’t been updated in a long time. So we created a new one. If you’ve ever been part of rolling out a new template, you know this is an iterative process, as you start applying the template to new manuals. You discover situations you didn’t think about. This was especially true for us, as we had hundreds of manuals.

So we tweaked for about a year, as the template was applied to more and more kinds of manuals and situations.

We uploaded the Frame template to the Sharepoint site and sent email to the writers that the template was changed and they should update their current projects. My staff was first rate but they would forget and didn’t update. We wouldn’t find out the template was out of date until the Production Review, which is exactly the wrong time to catch it. At that point, we were trying to get the Gold build of the docs and taking time to apply the updated template was a serious impact.

It also made me cranky, because I was trying to build credibility for the group, make us look competent and part of the team. It was a strange place that, over drinks one day, I might tell you about.

Blaze tip

Blaze – and Flare 4 – has a feature called Global Project Linking.

1. Add a Blaze Project Import to your Blaze project and get this screen:

Blaze Import Project

Blaze Import Project

2. In the Source Project field, browse and open another Blaze project.

3. Select the files types you want to include or exclude from the lists.

4. Select the “Auto-reimport before ‘Generate output'” check box.

OK, so why is this cool?

What you can do is create a template project with all the page layouts, snippets, logos, style sheets, everything that belongs in all projects from your company. Save that project to a network location that everyone can get to.

Now all writers link to that project using Global Project Linking. All the specified content from the Global project is now available in each linked project.

If that template project changes, the “Auto-reimport before ‘Generate output'” check box makes sure those changes are brought into this project when any target in this project is built.

That current template issue I faced in my previous company? A non-issue now. Everyone is now linked to the template and they are always updated with the latest changes.

No looking like a dork because you sent an outdated project to the build.

Cool!

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