The LavaCon Content Strategy Conference | 27–30 October 2024 | Portland, OR
Frank Shipley

As Co-founder and CTO, Frank leads the pioneering technical team at Componize software. His responsibilities include product innovation and development and delivering high quality services and support to our clients.

After more than a decade in the automotive industry as a lead software engineer for Jaguar and Peugeot, Frank worked for several years as an independent consultant and training instructor specialized in XML technologies and enterprise content management.

Frank has a BSC in Computer Systems Engineering from the University of Warwick in the UK. He co-founded Componize Software in 2008 with the objective of commercializing a new and innovative framework for XML content and Component Content Management. He is known in the DITA world as a technology “guru”, but he would never admit to it. He is also an avid cyclist.

SME collaboration: an analysis of current working practices in 150 companies

Co-presented with Jean-Luc Borie.

For the past decade, Componize has been helping international businesses like Toyota, SAP and Airbus make the transition to DITA. During this time, we’ve had a lot of time to get to know our clients, as well as a range of other potential customers – we understand their needs and we understand their challenges. DITA is clearly a highly acclaimed editorial format, but we’ve noticed a recurring theme when discussing its limitations:

  • DITA benefits can often be offset by cumbersome aspects of the user journey. Users feel frustrated that it doesn’t fit with their Agile processes, and additional costs materialise.
  • SMEs hold vital knowledge on the intricacies of a business, but it’s too difficult to integrate them into the authoring process because they’re very rarely trained, and ‘intuitive’ XML editors have been difficult to navigate for the uninitiated.

We needed a period of honest reflection: Can the advent of agile methodologies revitalize content creation and maintenance? What role should SMEs be playing in the future of information sharing? It was clear that something needed to change.

Our presentation will propose a Darwinian evolution of the process of creating technical documentation within an organisation. In particular, it will unveil the results of a survey of technical writers from around the world.