Solution components

 

The organization needs to determine what tools and technologies it will use to produce the needed information products.

Content and digital asset management systems

A content management system (CMS) provides you with the ability to control text content with storage, versioning, support for reuse, and check-in/check-out features. Digital asset management systems provide additional specialized functionality for graphics.

The choice of content model will affect which CMSs you evaluate. CMS requirements include technical factors (such as hosted versus installed systems), usability, functionality, and price.

There are many options in this space. Some systems provide both the authoring tool and content management capabilities. Others provide only content management and must be integrated with separate authoring tools. Publishing tools are generally separate from the CMS and authoring tool but can be integrated with both.

Not every organization has enough content to justify a CMS. They may choose to use other options, such as:

  • Source control systems: Although they are intended for managing software code, source control systems provide some useful file versioning capabilities for technical information.
  • Document management systems: The distinction between a CMS and a DMS is that the content management system controls the components that make up a document (such as topics or reusable paragraphs). A DMS controls a document (such as a PDF file). Most technical content needs a system to manage components rather than a system to manage the final information products.
  • File system: Smaller groups can use network drives and other rudimentary sharing mechanisms to ensure that authors can collaborate on files. These systems are always fragile and are not appropriate for organizations that are large, distributed, or subject to regulatory supervision.

Authoring tools

If a CMS is implemented, the choice of authoring tools is constrained by what the CMS supports. Without a CMS, you return back to the list of required information products to determine which authoring tools can meet your requirements. The top priority is to use an authoring tool that supports the required content model and output requirements.

 

Publishing tools

The publishing tools generate the needed output from the source content. In some cases, there is no distinction between the source format and the output format; for example, if you use a wiki, the wiki markup is rendered to the readers. An XML-based workflow, however, has XML as the source format and then a transformation process to create HTML or other output formats. Word processing and page layout tools create editable files, which are then saved or exported to PDF.

 

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