Branch and Merge: A content manager’s dream, or a tech writer’s nightmare?

Branch and merge may be a software developer’s dream, but using this technique with structured documents can turn into a nightmare. The merge process is so often a manual one: cut and paste and get frustrated. Can structured XML merge turn the nightmare back into a dream?

Banish the nightmare

The dream for any writer is to produce the perfect content, but writing a document is an iterative process. Content goes through several draft versions before we’re happy to submit it as releasable. Once the author is happy, the document passes to a reviewer, who will make further changes.

The appropriateness of particular content management strategies is dependent both on the context in which an individual has created content and on the content itself. With the correct feature-set, certain tools can turn the nightmare of manually finding and capturing change to a content manager’s dream come true.

Download this conference paper to:

  • Understand the challenges faced when producing and managing content across various versions of a document.
  • Understand the benefits of branching new versions of a document.
  • Review how XML-aware tools can help to save time and labour when reviewing and managing change.

Merge tools that do not understand XML syntax may identify changes that are not relevant in an XML context e.g. changes to attribute order. This will lead to unnecessary and unhelpful conflicts.

Related Media

DITA Merge is a complete toolkit for reliably merging 3 or more DITA documents into a single file. Download the product sheet to understand how the solution helps to identify all the meaningful diffs between your DITA files.

Merging XML documents is a particularly tricky operation but is often required to consolidate or synchronise two or more independent edit paths or versions. As XML tools become more powerful, the possibility of achieving an intelligent merge of XML data sets become reality.

It’s common to have data in two files that we need to merge together, two different people or two different processes have made changes. Does it matter who or what has made this change? This question might help to decide whether you need a 2-way or 3-way merge.

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