The TechComm sector (“technical communication”, “help manuals”) is going through a transformation from publishing to PDF to publishing to web, mobile and embedded devices. To do that, the sector is adopting a technique, known as structured content authoring, and an XML standard, known as DITA, as the bridge between their Microsoft Word and Adobe Framemaker type authoring tools and the many mediums and devices they publish to. It’s a new game in TechComm.
This shift is opening a door for Drupal to finally extend its leadership in media publishing to TechComm publishing. The presentation will describe how the Drupal community can encourage the development of “good enough” tools so that TechComm shops can “cross the chasm” into the Drupal world. Technical communication is a $1 Billion USD market with a $2K annual spend per tech writer for tools and training, and an equivalent amount for CMS and IT support. Drupal, with its media-publishing quality sexiness and scalability, open-source flexibility and built-in translation management tools is attractive to tech comm shops.
The presenter will list five essential features that are necessary to cross the chasm. Two of the five are already baked into Drupal (translation and publishing). One of the five essential features (markup transformation) is available via a dated, but functional Drupal module that calls to an open source toolkit. Another essential feature can be readily developed within the Drupal community by modest effort (search and retrieve). The remaining essential feature (structured authoring) can be provided by integrating existing products from solution providers in the tech comm sector.
Solution providers in the tech comm sector are interested in Drupal. But they perceive the Drupal world as open-sourced, GPL protected and expecting everything for free. Not so. The presenter will show how the Drupal community can “get off the [business] island” and reach out to these solution providers to encourage integration of their solutions with Drupal. A “good enough” solution can be had by a little duck tape here and bailing wire there along with a few calls to 3rd party external servers. “Good enough” for Drupal to disrupt the TechComm market.