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Case Study 5 from WIKI: Grow Your Own for Fun and Profit

A Wiki Workflow for Publishing

An excerpt from Alan J. Porter’s WIKI: Grow Your Own for Fun and Profit [1].

Buy now at: Amazon.com [2], Barnes & Noble [3].

Company: XML Press
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Purpose: Build high quality publications efficiently

XML Press, [4] the publisher of this book, is a small publishing company dedicated to publications for technical communicators, engineers, managers, and marketers.

When XML Press began work on WIKI: Grow Your Own for Fun and Profit, they wanted to take advantage of wiki technology to the greatest extent possible. They saw that wikis could help streamline their processes and increase the interaction among the author, editors, artists, and reviewers.

In addition, they wanted to experiment with new ways of authoring. Most of the books in their current and planned catalog are authored in XML, either DocBook or DITA, and their backend production processes are optimized for XML. However, not all authors are familiar with XML, and the learning curve is steep. Creating an authoring process that avoided direct authoring in XML, and provided the other benefits of a wiki, seemed like a worthy objective.

Based on advice from the author, XML Press chose PBworks, and used the hosted version (http://pbworks.com [5]). PBworks gives authors a rich text editor, as well as the ability to directly use HTML. It exports content in reasonably clean HTML, so conversion to DocBook XML was straightforward process.

Here is an outline of the development process:

Overall, the only work not done in the wiki was final production of the printed and ebook versions.

Using this process had several important benefits: