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The Battle for the Body Field

A talk by Jeff Eaton at 2015 IA Summit

About the Talk

April 25, 2015 10:15 AM

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, MN

The Gospel of structured content has taken the web publishing world by storm, but all is not well. Pressured by the demands of content reuse in a multi-device world, even lightweight blogging tools now leverage carefully modeled content types with explicit fields and schemas. Unfortunately, it all falls apart when users hit the body field: ugly ad-hoc markup creeps in, house styles evolve without planning, and critical metadata stays locked in blobs of "good enough for now" HTML.

Better HTML-focused WYSIWYG tools aren't enough, and the principles of semantic HTML don't solve the deeper problem. The work of content modeling must extend inside the body field, not just wrap around it.

In this session, we'll discuss the projects where this issue is most frequent encountered, see how three different CMSs are tackling the problem, and learn how to apply the lessons of XML and DITA with modern database-driven web CMSs.

Session Takeaways

  • Semi-structured markup based content model and rigid database-style models both fall short with complex, multi-use narrative content. Fortunately, it's possible to combine both approaches to get the best of both worlds.
  • Model content meaningfully even inside "body fields," replacing presentational markup with custom tag vocabularies. Assume that a transformative step will always occur to turn this custom markup into channel-specific design markup, and don't fight it. Finally, provide content editors with streamlined tools that are tailored to the organization's "content vocabulary," rather than one-size-fits-all visual markup.

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