Feature OverviewThe main features of Docmenta are:
See below for a short description of these features. A more detailed explanation of the concepts is given in the Docmenta Tutorial.
Cross Media Publishing
Docmenta is intended for creating large evolving publications which need to be provided in several output formats for web and print. Currently supported output formats are PDF, HTML, Web Help (dynamic HTML), EPUB (eBook) and DocBook.
A "publication manager" can prepare semantic styles which can then be used by the authors. During creation of the content the author can assign the styles to the content. The presentation-information is stored separately from the content. For example, the content can be exported in DocBook XML format and the styles can be exported separately in CSS format.
Docmenta is a multi-user web-application which allows distributed authoring. A publication can be written by a single person, or many people can work simultaneously on different parts of a publication. The authors may be distributed over several countries and will get instant access to the latest version of the publications. All functionality is available through a web-browser (i.e. there is no need for installing any additional software on client-side). Furthermore, Docmenta distinguishes different user roles (e.g. authors, translators, validators, ...) with different access rights to content and functionality.
Docmenta allows authors to create content in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) way as known from common desktop word processors. Thus, authors do not have to know HTML or any other markup language. When an author assigns a semantic style to content, he will immediately get a preview of the formatting.
Docmenta supports the creation of links to sections, images, tables and inline elements. Link targets are identified by unique alias names which the authors have to assign to the referenced elements. During publication export, the link text can automatically be replaced by the title and/or section number and/or the page number of the referenced element.
Each content node has a workflow state which can have one of the values "Work in Progress", "Ready for Approval" or "Approved". When an author has finished his work on a content node, he can set the workflow state to "Ready for Approval". A user with the right to approve content can then set the state to "Approved" or back to "Work in Progress". As soon as a content node has the state "Approved", it can no longer be edited by authors.
Version- and release-management
Docmenta supports the evolution of the product documentation by allowing users to create versions of the product documentation. A version of a product documentation is a snapshot of the product documentation at a specific point in time. You can put a version in state "Released" which means that this version is no longer editable. Docmenta also supports the creation of branches from old released versions. Following illustration gives an example of a possible version tree:
Docmenta supports the translation of the product documentation from an "original" language into one or more translation languages. For this purpose Docmenta has a so called translation-mode where translators can replace the original content (text, images) by the translated content. It is then possible to export translated publications, which contain the translated content instead of the original content. Docmenta assures that the translated product documentation follows the same version tree than the original product documentation, as shown in the following illustration:
Document structure management
Docmenta makes it easy to restructure the product documentation. The document structure can be changed separately from the content. When parts of the documentation are moved to another location, all affected links automatically refer to the new location.
Section headers are automatically formatted based on the depth of the section relative to the publication root. For example, when a section is on level 2, it will be formatted with the style "header2". If the section moves to level 3, it will automatically be formatted with the style "header3".
Another feature of Docmenta is the inclusion mechanism which allows to include the same content at different locations.
Table of Contents and Index generation
Docmenta automatically creates a Table of Contents based on the hierarchical section structure of the product documentation. Furthermore, authors can insert index terms into the content, which will then be included in an automatically generated index at the end of the publication.
The content filtering mechanism allows you to create specialized publications that are tailored to specific use cases or environments. For example you could create a "Reference Manual (Windows)" which is tailored to the MS Windows operating systems and a "Reference Manual (Unix/Linux)" which is tailored to Unix/Linux operating systems. For the MS Windows publication, the filtering mechanism will automatically exclude all content that is specific for other operating systems than MS Windows (see following illustration):
Image gallery (thumbnail preview)
Docmenta includes basic image management functionality. Images that shall be included in the product documentation need to be uploaded into folders, which can be located at any place within the documentation structure. Docmenta supports upload by file selection as well as drag'n'drop upload. Images are referenced from within the content by unique alias names. To get an overview of the uploaded images, Docmenta presents thumbnail previews of the uploaded images.
Docmenta allows the preparation of templates, that can be used by authors as skeletons for creating content. Furthermore, templates can be attached to styles (dynamic templates). This way, template content can be inserted on the fly during export, e.g. to render a simple block of text as a notebox.
Listing support (line-numbering and syntax highlighting)
Docmenta has built in support for listings. For example Docmenta can automatically add line-numbers to listings or apply user-defined syntax highlighting.
Each product has a publication archive, where exported publications are automatically stored. The archive can store draft and released publications, as well as translated publications. This way users have access to the exported publications of old and new product versions. Publications which are outdated can easily be removed from the publication archive. In case of database storage, the publication archive can be placed inside or outside of the database (i.e. in the server-filesystem).
Source data storage
Beside textual content and images, Docmenta also allows the creation of file folders where users can store any kind of additional files. These files are stored along with the product documentation. For example, if a bitmap image was created out of a vector graphic image, then also the vector graphic image can be stored along with the bitmap image.
Stable storage format
Docmenta stores the content nodes as files in W3C XHTML format. The documentation structure can be exported as XML file. Furthermore Docmenta allows to export the content in the widely supported DocBook format. All style information can be exported in W3C CSS format (Cascading Stylesheets). This way it is assured that you can transfer the documentation to other systems in case you decide to switch from Docmenta to another publishing environment.
Docmenta is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) as published by the Free Software Foundation. Docmenta itself uses several other open source components like Apache FOP, DocBook stylesheets, TinyMCE, ZK and others.
Furthermore, commercial plugins are planned for upcoming releases. The commercial plugins will provide extensions which will be mostly of interest for companies (as for example LDAP authentication). See the roadmap for more details.
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