DITA and XMetaL Discussion

  • georgerioux

    Spell checking a map

    Participants 4
    Replies 5
    Last Activity 12 years, 9 months ago

    Hi there:

    I'm wondering if there is a way to spell check (or do a search-and-replace on a term within) a map and all of the topics it contains? It seems like with the current version of XMetaL you can only check one XML file at a time.

    Regards,
    George

    Reply

    Derek Read

    Reply to: Spell checking a map

    We are looking into what it might take to implement these features, but they are not yet being coded as we are working on other features for our next release.

    Reply

    Derek Read

    Reply to: Spell checking a map

    One strategy that will reduce (and hopefully eliminate) the need to spell check at the map level (assuming this does not mean spell checking the map file itself, but the topics it references) is to formalize your process for writing topics.

    When a formal process for “signing off” on each topic is into place a lot of wasted effort can be eliminated. This process should include spell checking each topic before passing the file along for review (which is something that you would hopefully do as a matter of courtesy anyway as people reviewing content generally should not be spell checking in my opinion). Of course, some people do not have the luxury of having someone else review their writing, but these people can still include spell check in the last part of their own “sign off” procedure, which might also include deciding on the file name and version number to give to a file when checking it into your CMS, or deciding what to¬† name and where to store a file when working on a local file system (ie: C drive), etc.

    Imagine a system where topics are reused between different maps (example: many of our clients that create technical manuals for hardware do this a lot as different models of hardware often tend to have some features that are identical). If each topic is spell checked as part of the standard work-flow then that is guaranteed to have been done only once by a single author. If each topic were to be spell checked as part of a larger set of files (ie: at the map level) then a topic might be spell checked over and over by various different people that have decided to reference the topic in their map file, wasting time and effort that could be put to better use. This should also apply to simpler cases where one person is writing all the topics and building all the maps. Even in the case where you never reuse topics it still just makes sense (to me) to do a spell check as a matter of course so that you know the file is “correct” and you don't need to worry about it anymore.

    Perhaps someone out there has a different process that requires spell checking at the map level and they really cannot spell check before each topic is saved? I cannot think of a process like this, but if you have one please let me know so I can take that into account in any meetings I'm attending that are arguing about which features to implement.

    Reply

    dcramer

    Reply to: Spell checking a map

    A squiggly-line style spell checker would make it a moot point. However, there would still be a use case for an interactive search and replace across the topics in a map or a collection of files (e.g. the main file and all entities).

    Reply

    Derek Read

    Reply to: Spell checking a map

    How about a search and replace for all files in a given location on disk?
    How important is it that the map be the driver for which files to search within?

    Also, would such a feature need to work with a CMS system or tie into existing find and replace functionality provided by the CMS itself? That would be one of the main headaches for us if we were to offer such a feature. When a CMS is involved things become complicated because all the files will either need to have been cached somewhere locally already (not every CMS does this), or they will all need to be checked out to the local machine before a search can be done, or the feature would need to use the existing find and replace functionality built into the CMS. At least one CMS we integrate with (Trisoft) has this feature built into it and they expose it in XMetaL though a menu item, so in that case we'd probably need to provide a method to turn our version off so it doesn't get in the way.

    I'm assuming at this point that if you want such a feature you are storing files on your local file system only and not using a CMS, or have a CMS that does not provide this feature. Is that the case for you (and if so, which)?

    Reply

    dcramer

    Reply to: Spell checking a map

    Correct, if you have a CMS, it should be the CMS's job to do that (or you've spent a lot of money for what exactly?). I was thinking of the file system (or source code repository, e.g. svn or cvs) situation. Yes, you'd want to be able to turn the feature off for those who have a fancy CMS.

    Searching and replacing all the files in a given location on disk would present problems for those who break files up into file entities since XMetaL would freak out when opening files without DOCTYPEs. Better would be to prompt the user to open each file entity when it comes to it (and then return to the main file when done).

    I would think that DITA users would want to drive it off the ditamap, but you'd have to ask them.

    Currently when I have to do this sort of thing I use emacs' dired. With that you can mark files in a directory and then operate on the marked files. However, few of our writers are comfortable enough with emacs to do that.

    David

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