OEMs and other customers use Intel’s system-on-a-chip (SoC) products in their mobile devices. Intel makes a variety of SoCs, and any one SoC includes many components, with processor, memory controller, graphics, and sound integrated on a single chip. Each of these components comes with its own documentation, and there’s even more documentation that describes how to integrate these components with other custom components designed by the OEM. Pretty soon, you have tens of thousands of pages of documentation.
But each Intel customer needs only a fraction of the total available documentation — a piece here and a piece there. They don’t want to read a 20,000-page document to find the three paragraphs they need.
Intel IT recently partnered with the Intel product group that helps Intel customers with mobile device design, to improve the delivery of content to customers.
Enter Stage Right: Topic-Based Content
Which would you rather use: a 500-page cookbook with general headings like “stove-top cooking” and “oven recipes,” or one with tabs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and cross-references and indexes that help you find casseroles, breads, stir frys, and crockpot recipes, as well as recipes that use a particular ingredient such as sour cream or eggs? Clearly, the latter would be easier to use because you can quickly find the recipes (topics) that interest you.
Darwin Information Typing Architecture, known as DITA (pronounced dit-uh), is an XML-based publishing standard defined and maintained by the OASIS DITA Technical Committee. DITA can help structure, develop, manage, and publish content, making it easier to find relevant information.
Four basic concepts underlie the DITA framework:
- • Topics. A topic is the basic content unit of DITA, defined as a unit of information that can be understood in isolation and used in multiple contexts. Topics address a single subject and are short and standardized to include defined elements, such as name, title, information type, and expected results.
- • DITA maps. DITA maps identify the products a topic is associated with and the target audience. All these things help determine which topics are included in search results. DITA maps also include navigational information, such as tables of contents.
- • Output formats. DITA-based content can be delivered in various formats, such as web, email, mobile, or print. For ease of use, the content’s final design and layout—its presentation—varies to accommodate the unique characteristics of each output format.
- • Dynamic content. Customers can select and combine different topics to create their own custom documents, which is sort of like being able to replace one piece of a DNA map to create a brand new animal.
(If DITA intrigues you, consider attending the 2015 Content Management Strategies/DITA North America conference in Chicago, April 20–22).
Intel’s Mobile Design Center Leverages DITA to Improve Our Customer’s User Experience
We designed a solution that eliminates the need for the previous long-form documentation. Instead, the solution enables SoC customers to assemble relevant content based on topics of interest. To achieve this, the Client Computing Group changed its documentation structure to topic-based content so that customers can quickly find highly specific information, enabling faster time to market for their mobile solutions and reducing the amount of time Intel engineers must spend helping customers find the information they need. The content is tagged with metadata so that customers can search on specific topics and bundle those topics into custom binders that they can reference or print as needed.
The Intel Mobile Design Center portal is described in detail in our paper, “Optimizing Mobile-Device Design with Targeted Content.” The portal’s ease of use contributed significantly to overall customer satisfaction with the solution. According to a survey we conducted, customer satisfaction scores have increased from 69 percent before implementation to 80 percent after.
Based on what the mobile communications group created in the Mobile Design Center, other groups are taking notice and creating their own design centers. For example, the Service Provider Division have committed to creating its own design center and are delivering all of its content in DITA to provide an even more interactive design for their customers.
Getting from Here to There
Converting existing FrameMaker and Word documents to DITA was not an easy undertaking. For the mobile communications group, some content wasn’t converted due to lack of time, although the group has committed to using DITA for all new content. This group performed the conversion manually, taking about 5 to 10 pages per hour. The entire conversion project took months.
For the second group we worked with, who converted their entire documentation set, the conversion was accomplished using several methods. For large FrameMaker docs, they used a third-party product to partially automate the conversion process. While the resulting DITA docs still needed manual touch-up, the automated conversion was a time-saver. For smaller FrameMaker documents, topics were created manually. For Word docs, topics were manually cut and pasted.
So, was the effort worth it? Both groups agree that indeed it was. First, conversion to DITA revealed that there was a lot of duplication between documents. When in the DITA format, revisions to a topic only take place in that topic — there is no need to search for every document that contains that topic. Not only does this reduce the time it takes to make revisions, but it also improves the quality of our documentation. In the past, without DITA, some documentation might be out-of-date because a topic was revised in one place but not in another.
“By converting to DITA we reduced the amount of content, allowing for reuse. This also reduced the amount of work for the authors,” said one team member. “DITA gives you a better feel of the makeup of your content,” said another.
Other team members touted improved revisions and version control and the ability to tag content by more than just document name.
What’s Next for DITA at Intel?
Because the solution we created is scalable, we anticipate that additional product and business groups across Intel will begin to take advantage of topic-based content to improve customer experience and Intel’s efficiency.
I’d love to hear how other enterprises are putting DITA to work for their customers, increasing customer satisfaction, encouraging dynamic content creation, and accelerating the pace of business. Feel free to share your comments and join the conversation at the IT Peer Network.