Adoption of Structured Authoring Continues to Rise in Global Business
SDL's (news, site) Global Authoring Survey notes the rise in structured authoring with users employing the XML format to store data and make content available to help streamline production.

And Our Survey Said...

As we head towards the end of the year, survey season is upon us and one of our early starters comes from SDL, a company big in global information solutions. Examining trends in document management, authoring and publishing around the world, it provides an eight-page guide on where the market is going.

A firm move towards XML is the major detail of note from the survey, which has been running since 2006. Now, 28% of those surveyed compared to 18% last year are using XML, while 7% of respondents now work in an all-XML environment.

DITA Adoption is Slow

With DITA, as the new kid on the block, starting to appear on the radar, it is a little surprising to read that it isn't making a huge impact. Over half of respondents show no sign of using it and a worrying 18% are not even aware of what it is.

The study does say that 25% of organizations are planning to move towards DITA and this is an encouraging percentage.

Popular Publishing Tools

The publishing tools used for all this documenting work shows a neck-and-neck race between Microsoft Word and Adobe FrameMaker. However, with Word's share plummeting and FrameMaker heading rapidly upwards, it won't be close for long. RoboHelp, InDesign and XMetal are all distant, but making progress.


New tools are springing up, but the mainstays rule the roost (Chart - SDL)

Consistency Is The Key

Achieving consistency across the company and its products is still the main objective of those in the documentation space. As the report notes; "As they [companies] begin to adopt and move content into XML and as some authors choose DITA as an authoring strategy, their opinions about the importance of consistency will be a good indicator as to how these standards can help improve the authoring of technical content."

It will be interesting to see in next year's report:

  • Will DITA gain wider awareness?
  • If the rise in usage of FrameMaker adds to the level of consistency that users want to achieve?
  • Which tools, if, any rise to challenge Word for second spot?

SDL's report was compiled with input from 235 respondents from the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC) as well as other authoring and technical documentation professionals. You can fill in a brief form to get the report, here.