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SOFT9020 - XML in Technical Communication

Title:XML in Technical Communication
Long Title:XML in Technical Communication
Module Code:SOFT9020
Duration:1 Semester
Credits: 10
NFQ Level:Expert
Field of Study: Computer Software
Valid From: Semester 1 - 2020/21 ( September 2020 )
Module Delivered in 2 programme(s)
Module Coordinator: Sean McSweeney
Module Author: Donna OShea
Module Description: Extensible Markup Language (XML) has had a huge impact on software development, data representation and interchange, and its application in the field of technical communications is now growing in importance. XML provides a platform-independent and vendor-neutral method for creating and publishing documentation that can be easily transformed into a variety of output formats. This module aims to develop students’ skills in XML and, in particular, Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA), which is an XML language designed specifically for technical communications.
Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this module the learner will be able to:
LO1 Describe the main technologies involved in technical communications which include XML, XSLT stylesheets, DTD and XSD.
LO2 Evaluate industry standard authoring approaches.
LO3 Design technical documentation for re-usability.
LO4 Assemble content by linking content and reusing topics.
LO5 Modify an XSLT stylesheet to customise PDF output.
LO6 Develop ANT and Batch file to automate the PDF customisation process.
LO7 Synthesize content to a variety of output formats.
Pre-requisite learning
Incompatible Modules
These are modules which have learning outcomes that are too similar to the learning outcomes of this module. You may not earn additional credit for the same learning and therefore you may not enrol in this module if you have successfully completed any modules in the incompatible list.
No incompatible modules listed
Co-requisite Modules
No Co-requisite modules listed

This is prior learning (or a practical skill) that is mandatory before enrolment in this module is allowed. You may not enrol on this module if you have not acquired the learning specified in this section.

No requirements listed
No Co Requisites listed

Module Content & Assessment

Indicative Content
Introduction to XML. Advantages of using XML in technical communications. Application areas of XML. Comparison of XML to HTML. Well-formed and valid XML documents. XML declarations and Document Type Declarations. XML language components i.e. elements, attributes, entities and declarations. XML technologies such as DTD, XSLT, XSL-FO, XPath, DOM/SAX. XML toolkits and editors.
Introduction to DITA. History of DITA. DITA 1.2 specification. Understanding DITA essentials: topics, information typing, separation of content from presentation, specialization.
Authoring in DITA
Topic based authoring. Task, concept and reference topics. Arranging topics into DITA maps. Publishing to output formats i.e. PDF, HTML etc. DITA Open Toolkit (OT). DITA OT Configuration. ANT. Use of command line for publication.
DITA and Content Reuse
Single sourcing. Reusing topics and maps. Reusing portions of content from a topic in another topic. Pushing a portion of content of content from a topic into another topic. Profiling and filtering content. Coniditional Processing.
DITA and Cross-References
Linking in DITA. Linking methods. Inline cross-references and related links. Cross references using relationship tables. Best practices in cross-references. Indirection methods.
Customising Output in PDF
Using XSLT stylesheets customise PDF output. Automating the build process using ANT build files and BATCH files.
Customisation using XSLT stylesheets
General customisation include: Cover page customisation; Titles; body text; text formatting; lists; fonts and attribute sets. Header and Footer Customisation: Header and Footer formatting; margin; format and justify; adding additional information and logos. Page masters Customisation: Default page masters and attribute sets; setting a page dimension; margins; body; and header and footer regions. Design of front cover page. Add background image to page. Change column numbers of master page. Landscape pages.
Assessment Breakdown%
Course Work100.00%
Course Work
Assessment Type Assessment Description Outcome addressed % of total Assessment Date
Project This project aims to evaluate the core concepts of XML and DTDs. An example project would be to create a DTD and corresponding XML based on a description provided by the lecturer. 1,2 25.0 Week 5
Project Create and author a document using core XML/DITA skills demonstrating best practices in link and dependency management, filtering and conditional processing. 2,3,4,7 40.0 Week 9
Project This project will assess advanced XML and XSLT skills to customise PDF/HTML output. In addition, the student will be expected to automate the build process. 5,6,7 35.0 Sem End
No End of Module Formal Examination
Reassessment Requirement
Coursework Only
This module is reassessed solely on the basis of re-submitted coursework. There is no repeat written examination.

The institute reserves the right to alter the nature and timings of assessment


Module Workload

Workload: Full Time
Workload Type Workload Description Hours Frequency Average Weekly Learner Workload
Lecture XML in Technical Communications lecture 3.0 Every Week 3.00
Lab XML in Technical Communications lab 2.0 Every Week 2.00
Independent & Directed Learning (Non-contact) Independent Study 9.0 Every Week 9.00
Total Hours 14.00
Total Weekly Learner Workload 14.00
Total Weekly Contact Hours 5.00
Workload: Part Time
Workload Type Workload Description Hours Frequency Average Weekly Learner Workload
Lecture XML in Technical Communications lecture 3.0 Every Week 3.00
Lab XML in Technicial Communications lab 2.0 Every Week 2.00
Lecturer Supervised Learning (Non-contact) Independent Study 9.0 Every Week 9.00
Total Hours 14.00
Total Weekly Learner Workload 14.00
Total Weekly Contact Hours 5.00

Module Resources

Supplementary Book Resources
  • Laura Bellamy 2011, DITA Best Practices: A Roadmap for Writing, Editing, and Architecting in DITA, Prentice Hall, Inc. [ISBN: 978-0132480529]
  • Eliot Kimber 2013, DITA for Practitioners Volume 1, 1 Ed., O'Reilly [ISBN: 9781937434069]
  • Ann Rockley 2009, Dita 101, The Rockley Group [ISBN: 978-0-557-07291-0]
This module does not have any article/paper resources
Other Resources

Module Delivered in

Programme Code Programme Semester Delivery
CR_KINDD_9 Master of Science in Information Design and Development 1 Mandatory
CR_KIDDE_9 Postgraduate Diploma in Science in Information Design and Development 1 Mandatory

Cork Institute of Technology
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Email: help@cit.edu.ie