Best Practices for Component-Based Authoring: Third in a 3-Part Series - Page 6

Applying the same idea to common terminology

The same idea can be applied to managing the standard terminology that's included in content such as company names, product names and features, legal terms and so forth. By using DITA keyword elements to represent these terms, rather than "hard-coding" the actual text, changes to these terms can be done from a single place and automatically rippled through content. By mapping these DITA keywords to a translation terminology base, only the changed term needs to be re-translated-not all of the individual sentences. For example, suppose the term "widget" is used throughout our content, as in paragraphs such as this:

When upgrading the widget, first take the new widget and set it carefully to the side of the chassis. Then remove the current widget.

What if "widget" needs to be changed to "gizmo"? Changing one term results in the re-translation of all the sentences in which it occurs (and only two of thousands are shown above). This is further compounded if there are variations in these sentences across similar content (the problem described in the previous section). If all occurrences of the word "widget" are replaced with a standard term reference, however, then only the terminology base (and corresponding DITA keyword definition) needs to be changed:

When upgrading the <term1>, first take the new <term1> and set it carefully to the side of the chassis. Then remove the current <term1>.

On to success

We hope you've enjoyed this 3-part series on component-based authoring, and have found it useful in helping you to both understand and use this technology in your organization. Hopefully, this will also help you achieve the kinds of dramatic cost savings we've outlined in these articles. Good luck, and of course, don't hesitate to ask for expert help if you need it!

This was the third installation of a 3-part series on component-based authoring. Click here to read the first article, "How and Why to Use Component-Based Authoring: First in a 3-Part Series" and click here to read the second article, "How Component-Based Authoring Works: Second in a 3-Part Series."

Eric Severson is co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer for Flatirons Solutions Corporation. Eric is also on the board of directors for IDEAlliance and is a former president of OASIS--both XML industry consortiums. He can be reached at