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Takeaways from DITA-OT Day 2024 and DITA Europe 2024: markdown, AI, Github

Flow @ DITA-OT DAY 2024

Despite the chilly weather, three Flow colleagues embarked on a journey to Helsinki last week to attend DITA-OT Day and DITA Europe.

These conferences focus on DITA, but also delve into all trends and innovations shaping the world of technical writing. Three recurring themes captured our attention during DITA Europe 2024: markdown, AI, Github. That is: the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into technical writing, the growing synergy between Markdown and DITA, and the increasing use of GitHub to manage DITA projects. Here are our key takeaways.

Unleashing the power of AI

It comes as no surprise that the main theme was the integration of artificial intelligence. Across various presentations, the potential of AI in different realms of technical writing was clear:

  • AI as a writing assistant. AI can be a powerful writing assistant, exemplified by tools like Oxygen's AI Positron, Heretto's Etto (complete with an adorable dog avatar), and Acrolinx. As discussed in our previous blog post, these tools help you create summaries, itemize content, check spelling and grammar…

DITA Europe 2024
DITA Europe 2024
DITA Europe 2024
  • AI in content delivery. Content delivery platforms are also integrating AI into their solutions. The use of semantic search engines within documentation portals addresses the evolving search habits of users. Fluid Topics showcased how to incorporate custom buttons and prompts, allowing users, for example, to summarize the content on a page or to extract the tools from a procedure.

  • AI for translation. AI can manage and validate terminology, making it a valuable aid to translators. It helps guarantee precision and coherence throughout their work. AI-driven innovations also enable easier localization of images and video by integrating automatic conversions from speech-to-text or image-to-text into classic translation workflows.

Overall, the consensus at the conference was that while AI holds immense potential to assist technical writers in various aspects of their work, it is unlikely to replace us. As aptly put by Leena Peltomaa from Acolad, "You can fly a plane without a pilot, but would you?"

Bridging the gap between markdown and DITA

Markdown, once pitted against DITA, now finds itself in a complementary role. In fact, it is rapidly gaining traction within the DITA-community, particularly in software documentation where a solid collaboration between technical writers and developers is crucial. The increasing support for Markdown in the DITA Open Toolkit and in DITA editors signifies a shift towards integration rather than rivalry. Several presentations showcased DITA and Markdown content published on the same website, demonstrating seamless cohesion between the two formats.


Using GitHub for content management

GitHub, a platform traditionally used for collaborative software development, took center stage in discussions surrounding documentation management. Several use cases demonstrated how GitHub can effectively replace traditional component content management systems (CCMSs) for DITA projects. By default, GitHub includes features like version control and branching, allowing for reliable file and project management.

Additionally, GitHub's capabilities can be extended using Git actions:

  • Automatic validation. Git actions enable automatic validation of DITA files upon commit, ensuring that only valid content is accepted. If someone attempts to commit an invalid DITA file, the commit process can be halted until the issues are resolved.

  • Automatic publication. When content on the main branch of a repository is edited, Git actions can initiate the publication process. DITA files can automatically be converted to HTML and published to the designated location.

DITA Europe 2024: markdown, AI, Github

Beyond the thematic discussions, DITA-OT Day and DITA Europe offered ample opportunities for networking and exchanging ideas. Our time in Helsinki was very cold but equally inspiring, equipping us with the tools and inspiration to embrace new challenges ahead.

The blurry but playful snapshot below serves as a good reminder of our experiences: The future of tech writing is bright, so let’s keep exploring and pushing boundaries together. Cheers to the next chapter!

Flow was at DITA Europe 2024


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