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   new to xml, looking for comments on our xml/xsl tutorialproject

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Hello all, new to this list and fairly new to XML (my assistant and I have been writing it for about a month).  We are delving into XML and XSL as a means to facilitate what is, for us, an otherwise painful and time consuming process: the production, dissemination, and revision of our tutorials and handouts. Let me give you some background on who I am and what I do, then I will give a summary of what we are doing/trying to do with XML /XSL and you experienced users can comment or criticize our strategy.
I am an instructional designer for a college and chair our college's faculty training committee.  I also run our faculty center for technology, and produce online tutorials, print tutorials, workshop handouts, etc on a small handful of technologies for three different audiences: faculty, TAs/graders, students.  The technology we spend most of our time on is WebCT, which, for those of you who don't know, is a learning management system--essentially a webserver that hosts course websites with a bunch of built-in tools.  Anyway, as I say I write and teach instructional materials on WebCT for several different audiences, so as an example parts of the contenton the WebCT Mail tool currently lives in 5 incarnations containing variable other content: 1 web tutorial for faculty, 1 web tutorial for students, 1 paper tutorial for faculty, 1 paper workshop handout for faculty, 1 paper tutorial for students.  Since much of the content is the same in all 5 of these documents we decided it would be advantageous to use XML to contain that content, and use XSL to provide the 5 transformations.
ASIDE: has anyone seen this done with tutorials before? I'm sure it has, but here in Utah the idea is new to every institution I have talked to. We all know about shareable content objects and learning objects, but very little has been done to implement such stuff, at least around here.
Here's our general strategy to accomplish this: we will have one XML file per technology, e.g. "uvsc_webct-ce41.xml". That XML doc will contain a hierarchy that contains at least these nodes as the critical elements:
So in the example I mentioned technology ("WebCT") is the highest level, the document contains multiple tools (e.g. "Mail", each containing multiple tool_topics (e.g. "Creating New Mail Folders").  I've determined that the tool_topic will be the lowest common denominator if you will, the smallest useable "chunk" of content that can be repurposed across all the different incarnations. So the tool_topic "Creating New Mail Folders" might appear in all the faculty tutorials but none of the student tutorials. Well, technically it would appear in all the tutorials but I'm pained for a better example right now.
So up to this point we are doing fine. We've got what I think is a nice, comprehensive DTD and some basic tutorials in xml, and have even begun to do some transformations of the content.  We haven't done a whole lot with the XSL end, just a bit, but we are planning on having it work something like this: we have a general XSL doc that contains only the most basic transformation information--call it format.xsl. We also have a XSL doc that alters that formatting for print (print.xsl), and an XSL doc that alters that formatting for web (web.xsl)--we consciously chose to do this instead of having just 2 different CSSs (print & web) because of some other issues we encountered in the print vs. web presentation. All three of those XSL documents would remain static. We would then come up with a fairly dynamic set of additions XSL documents that contain: a variable "list" of the tool_topics to be included from the xml doc and the order in which they will appear, a ref to the XSL print or web doc, a ref to the XSL formatting doc, various document-specific information.  So for example I might have an XSL document called webct_mail_tutorial_print.xsl which grabs the print.xsl doc, the format.xsl doc, and grabs specific tool_topics from the "Mail" tool node.  I could then print that sucker via the web or by converting to a PDF with XSL-FO (the book of which I have yet to open).
So that's it in a nutshell. If you read this entire post I appreciate it, and, as I said, would love to hear your experienced comments and criticisms of what we are trying to do. If you have seen similar projects that I could refer to as a model, let me know.
J. Stein
   Instructional Designer
   Distance Education, Utah Valley State College
   phone:  (801) 863 8929
   office:   Computer Science 633


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