Hands-On DITA


Bernard Aschwanden
President, Publishing Smarter


Online Courses

Hands-On DITA

23 February – 30 March 2017 (Thursdays) | 11:00 AM – Noon EST (GMT -5)

Welcome to 2017! It's time to learn how to create DITA based content.

Concepts, tasks, references, maps. Learn how to create content, manage the materials, and then publish to PDF, HTML5, and other outputs. Create dynamic content and let the audience pick what they read. It's all possible with Adobe FrameMaker.

This online course introduces you to the latest version of Adobe FrameMaker. Using the trial version (if you don't have a full license) you learn to create, manage, and publish DITA content quickly and easily to multiple audiences, devices, and output formats. We'll work with samples that are easy to recreate, but showcase features you need to know.

Each week features a 1 hour demonstration as well as a specific set of exercises to help you flex your DITA muscles. You build up a working knowledge of FrameMaker and DITA through concrete samples you create and publish to see real output and real results.

You are required to put in the time to use the software after each session and follow specific instructions to create content. Once done, the content will be valid DITA. Files are basic, but ideas discussed will allow you to then expand the content to meet your own documentation needs.

One attendee will also win a one year license of Adobe FrameMaker 2017. The winner will be randomly drawn in the last session and is asked to also write a short article about their use of FrameMaker to be published by Adobe.Training, a chance to win software, and the opportunity to have your message shared on the Adobe website!

Session Descriptions

We install and setup the software, guide you through the basics, and introduce the ideas of task/concept/topic/reference, as well as DITA maps. We'll use a map to plan a collection of topics, and build a basic initial map and topic files.

On the map from week 1, we will work to create a set of initial files to support our final documentation. This includes adding elements such as a title, short description, and adding files to maps. We'll also publish content to see what it looks like as PDF, and as HTML5 that automatically adjusts to any device.

We'll be diving deeper into the body of a concept, task, and reference we create content and insert images, add tables, and develop procedures that guide users. We continue to publish content but begin to explore how to create multiple versions for unique mixes of products, platforms, and audiences.

Now that we have initial content, we can begin to put it all into more formal maps and start to publish content where the true power of FrameMaker and DITA come together. Using conditional content we create dynamic HTML5 content that allows users to pick what they see and automatically displays the right information, in the right format, at the right time.

With the basics out of the way, we dive into the reuse of content in DITA.

Learn to repeat notes and cautions, steps in procedures, sections, and examples, all without re-writing content over and over. Instead, we use core DITA functions like conrefs and harness powerful reuse and publishing functions.

Once files are complete we'll look at how to manage the relationship between topics in a map as well as the development of a relationship table.

Combining ideas from the entire course we end up with a complete set of DITA based content and a complete and powerful publishing solution with one tool.


Bernard Aschwanden is a recognized publishing technologies expert. He is an Adobe Certified Expert, a Certified Technical Trainer, and the author of numerous articles on xml-based publishing and single sourcing. He is the founder and President of Publishing Smarter. In addition to his publishing background and speaking tours, Bernard teaches a variety of courses. These include XML, DITA, CMS tools and related technologies, best practices for structured authoring, content management, and tools such as FrameMaker and XMetaL. He also works with clients to convert legacy content, analyze documentation, review workflows, and identify best practices in technical communications. Bernard is past President of the Society for Technical Communication and a past President of the Toronto STC. He is a professor in the continuing education Technical Communications program with Seneca@York, on the advisory board for the Humber College Technical Communications program, and remains active in the STC delivering in-person seminars and online webinars to members around the world. He has helped hundreds of companies implement successful publishing solutions.

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