Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I’m Baaaccckkk…

Sheesh. I leave you guys in the structured authoring/CMS/XML business alone for eight years and what do I come back to?

More acronyms. More standards.

That's OK... I also come back with 8 years of perspective.

Eight years of corporate enterprise customer perspective from two different industries, no less.

While I was gone y'all discovered:

  1. DITA
  2. Open Toolkits that go with Standards are cool.
  3. The fundamental business problems of working with business documentation, technical documents, product documentation, and any other subject with a "document" or "ation" in it have not changed.
  4. Packaging (more about this later).

While I was gone, I discovered:

  1. There is a big wide world outside of a structured authoring software company. There is an even bigger, wider world in the land of Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs and Submissions documentation.
  2. Do not think that you are immune to the downsizing monster just because you are working on a global enterprise project.
  3. Working as a technical resource in a publishing company is not as fun as working for a software company.
  4. Beware of anyone who wants to change your title from "Architect" to "Analyst."
  5. Microsoft's flavor of XML. Tastes like… XML, with a distinct datacentric flavor.
  6. There is no one way more effective to stop any useful work in its tracks than to become part of a constantly re-inventing and re-organizing amoeba formerly known as a functional department.

In short, I looked up, saw the mess, read the markup on the whiteboard, and decided it was time for a change. There is just no way to convert the world to XML before bedtime in a stagnating political environment within a large corporate enterprise.

Luckily… An opportunity fell in my lap just as I had one foot out the door!

So I'm no longer with the publishing company which shall not be named, and have joined a software company with dedicated XML structured authoring desktop and server solutions that are way cool.

The good news is I get to continue working out my master plan for converting the World to XML Before Bedtime from the Woods In New York, with my little dog by my side, my big dog lying behind me, and my Siamese sitting on the back of my chair. (The biggest dog is still looking out the window, waiting for the perfect herding opportunity…)

Here's the plan… Learn DITA. Feel the DITA. Be the DITA. Follow the DITA standard as adopted in various industries, paying specific attention to what is going on in Pharma.

Why Pharma? Because I, at one point a long time ago, made one of the first attempts to evangelize XML technology in the Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs community. The huge documentation and content management problems I reviewed back in 2000-2003 are still there. Just waiting and crying out "write me, reuse me, and manage me with XML!!!"

The wheels are turning. The tools are out there. The standards are moving toward precisely articulating ongoing document and content management problems.

Yeah. I can work with this.

Stay tuned.


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