How To Give Your XML Content Management System A Friendly Face

Using an XML content management system can be a nightmare for technical writers. Staring at pages and pages of technical content punctuated by tags and brackets impacts the creative process. They may be a specialist in their respective field, but are they an expert in coding?

As we covered previously, the right XML authoring tool can improve the experience of creating documents in eXtensible Markup Language, but what about managing XML content? PublishOne is a friendly publishing platform – an XML content management system (CMS) – that makes dealing with XML a dream. (Well, almost!)

What is an XML content management system?

An XML content management system uses XML as the primary format for storing and organizing content. XML defines rules for encoding documents in a format that’s readable by both humans and computers. It also separates out content from formatting.

Within an XML content management system, content – including text, image references, multimedia elements, and metadata – is stored in XML files. The XML format gives content a structured representation, making it easy to organize, search, and publish to different channels.

This structured approach is especially useful for managing complex and hierarchical content, such as technical documentation, legal documents, or any other content that requires a well-defined structure.

The challenges of working with XML-based content

While XML content management systems offer numerous benefits, working with XML itself can be a frustrating experience for authors and publishers.

  • It’s complicated
    XML is a structured markup, and technical authors can find it challenging to work with the intricacies of XML tags and hierarchies, alongside content creation. Put simply, the markup is complex for people unfamiliar with XML syntax.
  • It takes time to learn
    As a result, some authors and editors may need to learn XML and the specific rules or schemas associated with a business’s content structure. This learning curve can be time-consuming and may be a barrier for people who are less accustomed to working with markup languages.
  • It’s not intuitive
    XML authoring tools aren’t always as user-friendly as traditional word processors like Microsoft Word. Authors can find it less intuitive to work with XML editors, especially if these tools lack a familiar interface or advanced features. It can also frustrate some authors if they’re not able to see the exact appearance of their content during the editing process.
  • It can be difficult to collaborate
    Collaborative XML authoring can also be hindered if a CMS lacks convenient collaboration features. This means it’s easy to run into difficulties when multiple contributors need to work on the same document simultaneously.
  • It’s hard to keep track of versions
    For publishers, managing multiple versions of XML-based documents complicates things. At all times, they need to be able to track changes, merge edits from different contributors, and maintain a clear version history.

Why use an XML content management system?

There’s a reason why XML is still the industry standard for publishing technical content. It’s well-suited to any industry or application that requires precision, structure, and flexibility in content creation and management. Here’s what the right XML content management system can do for your publishing efforts:

  • Focus on writing: When working with XML in a dedicated XML editor, the primary focus shifts towards writing content and bringing structure to the text. You don’t have to worry about fitting constraints, length requirements, and other output channel-specific intricacies. By streamlining these technical aspects, it allows you to channel your energy into content creation, enhancing the overall quality of written content.
  • Multichannel publishing: An effective content management system for XML will support multichannel publishing. This enables content to be repurposed and published in various formats – such as web pages, PDFs, and e-learning materials – without manually re-authoring and uploading the same content to different channels.
  • Metadata management: XML documents include metadata, which provides additional information about the content. This metadata can be used for categorization, search, and retrieval of content. An XML CMS can help you streamline and manage metadata.
  • Version control: A good XML CMS should provide version control, allowing users to track changes made to content over time. This is especially important for collaborative environments where multiple users contribute and edit content.
  • Workflow management: Workflow features in the XML CMS can facilitate the review, approval, and publication processes. This is important for maintaining content quality and ensuring that it goes through the necessary approval steps before being published.
  • Enhanced search and retrieval: The structured nature of XML content makes it easier to search and retrieve specific pieces of information within large datasets. This is particularly useful for organizations with large content repositories.

The XML Workflow 

Every publisher has their own steps for creating, managing, and publishing content using XML, but here’s an overview of a typical workflow:

Step 1: Content creation

Writers use an XML authoring tool – or a word processor – to create structured content. They may follow predefined templates or document type definitions (DTDs) / XML Schema Definitions (XSDs) to ensure consistency and adherence to a standardized structure.

Step 2: Import into an XML CMS

Content is imported into the CMS. An XML CMS can handle content from different sources while maintaining the structured nature of the XML.

Step 3: Content editing and collaboration

Authors and editors collaborate on the content within the CMS. Simultaneous editing capabilities allow multiple users to work on the document at once. The CMS manages version control to track changes and revisions made by different contributors.

Step 4: Metadata assignment

Metadata – such as keywords, categories, and tags – is assigned to the content. Metadata helps to catalog, categorize, and organize content, making it much easier to search and retrieve later.

Step 5: Review and approval

The content goes through a review process where editors, experts, or other stakeholders review and provide feedback. Workflow tools in the CMS facilitate the review and approval process, ensuring that content meets quality standards and regulatory requirements.

Step 6: Version control

The CMS keeps track of different versions of the content. This is crucial for managing updates, revisions, and ensuring that the correct version is used for publication.

Step 7: Localization and translation

If the content is intended for a global audience, the CMS may include features for localization and translation. It allows for the management of different language versions and ensures consistency across translations.

Step 8: Author notifications

With your content neatly structured and easy to locate, it’s much simpler to create links with existing content and reuse it in the new publication. The CMS tracks links between documents. So when an original document is updated, authors of linked documents are automatically notified of changes. This means they can quickly check that reused content is up-to-date.

Step 9: Publishing

Once the content has been reviewed and approved, the CMS facilitates the publishing process. The CMS may support multichannel publishing, allowing content to be published in various formats and across different platforms such as websites, print, apps, and more.

Step 10: Archiving

Older versions of content and historical records may be archived within the CMS. Archiving ensures that a record of changes and previous versions is maintained for reference and compliance purposes.

Step 11: Search and retrieval

The structured nature of XML content makes it easier to search for and retrieve specific information within the CMS. Users can quickly locate content based on metadata, keywords, or other criteria.

The friendly face of XML content management

At PublishOne we know the frustrations of working with XML-based content. That’s why for over 20 years we’ve delivered a platform that streamlines and simplifies it.

Our XML content management system delivers powerful functionality for working with XML content through a simple and user-friendly interface. It easily integrates with popular XML editors and content creation software, so users can use their favorite writing tools – like Microsoft Word – right out of the PublishOne environment. Everything is in one place.

The best part of XML content management in PublishOne is that the platform seamlessly handles conversions back and forth between different publishing formats and XML. So writers and editors can focus on what’s important – collaborating on great content.

In fact, as an author you can choose which editor you would like to use, you can even change the editor depending on the workflow step you are in – as showcased in this Integration Friday video. Do you want to learn more about  what makes PublishOne the ultimate XML content management system? Watch this short explainer video:

PublishOne is the ideal solution for publishers who need content in XML, and technical writers who prefer working in popular tools like MS Word. To discover what PublishOne can do for your publishing workflows, speak to one of our friendly team. Contact us