Enforcing consistency with automated guidance
The transition should be virtually seamless because writers can continue using FrameMaker, as they always have, to maintain existing unstructured documentation. Meanwhile, the switch to topic-based authoring allows Ciena to create flexible chunks of content for output to multiple sources and structured authoring adds consistency to those outputs. Ultimately, the transition supports Ciena’s strategic content direction while making authors more valuable to the company.
Adobe FrameMaker also includes resources to help users learn unfamiliar processes. While the structured FrameMaker interface guides authors to create content that conforms to Ciena’s templates, it also helps prevent issues related to processing files for different uses and types of output.
“Using a single source of unstructured content, Ciena’s document team could lose a full day per 200-page manual fixing formatting errors,” Carlisi says. “These issues don’t arise now that we’re authoring in DITA with the new release of Adobe FrameMaker.”
The update supports a planned three-phase transition, which starts with converting existing documents from unstructured to structured FrameMaker with DITA. Phase two will include adding strategic DITA elements, such as the short description, and metadata. During the final phase, Ciena plans to leverage content reuse, including a component content management system (CCMS).
“Using any other authoring tool besides Adobe FrameMaker would require Ciena to either commit to transitioning everything at once, which our budget and resources can’t accommodate, or lose applied conditions and variables, which isn’t acceptable,” says Carlisi.
Adobe FrameMaker is expected to have a minimal impact on existing staff and budgets. The transition of 155 paragraph tags, 16 variables, 21 cross-reference formats, 31 table formats, and up to 15 conditional tags in the unstructured templates can be completed by one full-time equivalent and a consultant.
“Structured Adobe FrameMaker lets Ciena build on our existing FrameMaker investments while giving us powerful new publishing tools for converting XML components for use in PDF, HTML, and eBook formats,” says Carlisi. “The ability to reuse common content to quickly publish in various formats is as exciting for us as it will be for our customers.”