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Component Content Management

In my last post, I described how DITA is used in dynamic content management. I will continue the subject of dynamic content management in this post.
DITA was conceived as a model for improving reuse through topic-oriented modularization of content. Instead of creating new content or copying and pasting information which may or may not be current and authoritative, organizations manage a repository of content assets – or DITA topics – that can be centrally managed, maintained and reused across the enterprise. This helps to accelerate the creation and maintenance of documents and other deliverables and to ensure the quality and consistency of the content organizations publish.
Dynamic content management is also called component content management. It is also called single source publishing. DITA is its foundation. A component content management system (CCMS) is used for managing component content. A component content management system (CCMS) is a content management system that manages content at a granular or component level rather than at the document level. Examples of such systems are Interwoven, Documentum, AuthorIT, DocZone, Vasont, SiberLogic, Trisoft, Astoria, Tridion.
What exactly is a component? Each component represents a single topic, concept or asset (e.g., image, table, product description). Components can be as large as a chapter or as small as a definition or even a word. Components in multiple content assemblies can be viewed as components or as traditional documents. Reuse allows the core component to be edited and maintained in one place, and then be assembled into thousands of documents where it is needed.
Each component is only stored one time in the content management system, providing a single, trusted source of content. These components are then reused (rather than copied and pasted) within a document or across multiple documents. This ensures that content is consistent across the entire documentation set. Each component has its own lifecycle (owner, version, approval, use) and can be tracked individually or as part of an assembly.
Component Content Management can be regarded as an overall process for originating, managing, and publishing content right across the enterprise and to any output.
Component content management provides significant benefits and cost savings over traditional document authoring and maintenance methods. Some of these are:
  • greater consistency and accuracy;
  • reduced maintenance costs;
  • reduced delivery costs;
  • reduced translation costs.
And more specifically:
  • Faster time to market because authors spend far less time creating and recreating the same content, reviewers spend less time reviewing, translators spend less time translating. Publishing to print, Help, and Web formats is fully automated. This is achieved by controlling standards, eliminating duplication, and effectively managing creation, localization, and publishing of content.
  • Efficient use of resources by eliminating repetitive creation and maintenance, more of your resources can be devoted to improving the quality of the content and adding value to your documentation.
  • Slashed translation costs: content is translated only once no matter how often it is reused. Translators only ever work on new or changed source content, so you don’t pay for them to handle unchanged text. Real projects have shown reductions in translation word count in excess of 30%.
  • Improved quality and usability of content: through easy definition and enforcement of standards you can guarantee consistent documentation structure and formatting, increasing readability and usability. Using single-source content ensures 100% consistency wherever it appears.
  • Improved workplace satisfaction: free authors from tedious, time-consuming tasks such as formatting and repetitive updates, so they can concentrate on creating and improving content. Reviewers gain by reviewing content only once, regardless of the number of end deliverables. Writers save 95% of the time they usually spend formatting content.
  • Increased customer satisfaction: consistent, accurate documentation of all types means fewer calls to customer support, because you are providing the right information, at the right time, in the right format.
Generating content takes time and money. As such, content should be treated as the valuable business asset that it is. To get maximum value from your content, you should be able to do a number of things:
  • You should be able to re-use content across documents without copying, so that you can write it once, and maintain it in a single place no matter how many times you have used it.
  • You should be able to use content created for one purpose equally well in other contexts and for other purposes.
  • You should be able to translate re-used content once and have it automatically reflected anywhere it is used.
  • You should be able to publish to print, help, and web outputs without having to modify or make different versions of your content.
These measures provide the potential for increasing the quality and consistency of your documentation, for reducing the cost and time involved in producing it, and for gaining more value from every piece of content that you create.
In my future posts, I will describe component content management systems.
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