Mekon enabled a forward-looking company to realise their vision for more efficient, more usable documentation within an ambitious timescale.
Napatech wanted to improve authoring efficiency while at the same time creating better, more tailored content for customers. The objective was to better fulfill customer needs by making information easier to find, consume and understand, while at the same time enabling writers to create content that was technically accurate, consistent and on schedule.
Napatech manufactures specialist network monitoring and analysis tools, extensively used in financial services, telecoms and e-commerce. They produce their own equipment and also supply partners on an OEM model. An extensive international operation is supported by a small team of four authors based at Napatech headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Although Napatech were using Structured FrameMaker and Information Mapping®, documentation was still proving a bottleneck, and an increasing number of product lines and product variants was putting the authoring team under pressure. The company had also identified audience profiles with radically different information needs. In particular it was important to deliver detailed information to customer bound by an Non-Disclosure Agreement while preventing valuable IP reaching external audiences.
With a good understanding of DITA authoring and a strong sense of the direction the authoring team needed to go, Napatech wanted validation that DITA was indeed a good fit for their requirements and to sell the benefits of the project to the wider business. Having won support for a project, they also needed guidance in choosing and implementing a system within a tight timescale. The most challenging aspect of the project was the need to work with content that was created from source code using Doxygen but that was manually being incorporated into online help output: how could the automatically generated content be updated without disrupting the rest of the online help file?
“We are now able to efficiently publish customer specific deliverables whilst supporting other areas of our business with single sourced data sheets”, Simon Lincoln, Documentation and Usability Manager, Napatech
Mekon conducted Content Strategy and Project Scoping consultancy phases, validating Napatech work to date and helping to build the business case and to articulate the ROI. Once the project was agreed in principle, Mekon conducted a ‘Conference Room Prototype’ on two Component Content Management Systems (CCMS). Mekon worked with Napatech’s authors to develop a set of user stories and prioritise them. Mekon then assisted Napatech’s authors to assess the two systems against those user stories using realistic content. Features were numerically scored, qualitative feedback on the user experience was recorded, and the results were evaluated and reported. The process confirmed that Bluestream’s XDocs CCMS, together with oXygen’s XML Author, would meet Napatech’s content creation and management needs.
Mekon developed a generic DITA conversion of the Doxygen tool’s exported XML and also worked with Bluestream to specify a new ‘Update existing content’ feature for the XDocs content import. When the Doxygen DITA is imported into XDocs, the system only imports new topics and creates new versions of changed topics, ignoring all unchanged content. Napatech then uses the Delta XML comparison tool to compare the old and new versions from XDocs, ensuring expected changes have been made and that errors have been fixed, as well as identifying content for review purposes.
This content was then published using Mekon’s WebHelp plugin for the DITA Open Toolkit to produce an attractive, usable, fully integrated, online help system. This eliminated the issues previously experienced by users when trying to locate related content across disparate sources. As well as user guides and developer reference material, Napatech also needed to be able to produce high‐quality marketing collateral incorporating technical content. Mekon’s IdXML plugin to the DITA Open Toolkit was integrated into XDocs to allow authors to publish DITA content into Adobe InDesign. The plugin makes the creation of datasheets and other technical marketing collateral more efficient because DITA content changes can be flowed into an existing InDesign template without having to adjust the layout every time the content is amended. The plugin enables graphic designers to maintain control over the aesthetics of a document while benefitting from the efficiency and technical accuracy that comes from content reuse in a structured environment.
Adopting DITA has delivered a major productivity boost to Napatech’s authoring team – reducing lead time and creating capacity to work on multiple projects in parallel. The team are also able to contribute accurate, timely product data for the marketing team to include in their promotional materials, with no loss of visual appeal or brand identity, thanks to the IdXML plug in.
Moving to DITA has enabled Napatech to effectively reuse their content when creating documentation for multiple hardware platforms and product variants reducing lead time and creating capacity to work on multiple projects in parallel.
“It was great to work with the tech-savvy team at Napatech. The tight timescales – six months from the CCMS selection until the first product launch – required a high level of collaboration and partnership. The high quality technical input, including the DITA content, and the timely decision making from the Napatech team enabled Mekon to rapidly, and incrementally, develop the required outputs and to meet this tight deadline,” Mike Ewins, Project Manager, Mekon
XDocs is the most affordable, complete DITA CCMS – an out-of-the-box enterprise DITA CMS that installs and deploys in hours, rather than days. Whether your team includes numerous members who are spread across the globe or a couple of content-creators working in the same office, XDocs delivers incomparable value – allowing you to deliver the most up-to-date content to your customers.
oXygen XML editor
oXygen is the best XML editor available, accommodating a large number of users ranging from beginners to XML experts. oXygen offers advanced DITA editing support, covering DITA 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 standards, and allows users with limited knowledge of XML to edit DITA documents in a WYSIWYG interface.
DITA Compare – the unmatched DITA XML comparison solution, delivers accurate and reliable identification of change within DITA based documentation, saving users time and money within their authoring and reviewing process.
Congility IdXML plugin
IdXML is a DITA-OT plugin that enables DITA content to be mapped to any XML structure. Designers typically do not want to import complex DITA content into their templates, but prefer a simplified XML that can be mapped to their specific, and often changing, design elements. This provides a flexible approach allowing content to be mapped to a single “story” that can flow through an entire document.
Mekon solutions and services
Mekon’s WebHelp is a plug-in for the DITA-OT that resolves many of the problems traditionally associated with publishing DITA as context-sensitive user assistance. The plug-in enables you to customise the user interface by creating navigation tabs and buttons. to provide a user experience tailored to your requirements.