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Arbortext 101: Best Practices for Configuring, Authoring, Styling, and Publishing with Arbortext (Arbortext Monster Garage) Kindle Edition
|Length: 95 pages||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled||Page Flip: Enabled|
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I can't wait to read Ms. Fraley's next book, "Arbortext 102: Best Practices for Creating Arbortext Styler Stylesheets", and I hope Ms. Fraley writes and publishes more books to cover the entire Arbortext family of products.
As others have pointed out, there has been a dearth of information about Arbortext products up to now, especially from 3rd party sources outside of PTC. This book is the first of a series that aims to fill that gap, by presenting the concepts needed to set up and configure a basic Arbortext implementation. The book does this pretty well, explaining the various components that are typically customized in Arbortext editing environments. It gives the general framework of which kinds of customizations go where, and how to set up your environment so it's ready to start applying customizations.
I liked what was in the book, and wish something like it had existed when I was getting started with Arbortext implementation work many years ago. The book sticks to the basics, presented in a very non-technical fashion, which is both a strength and a weakness.
The strength is that it makes the concepts accessible to anyone who might need to get going setting up an Arbortext environment, even if they are not programmers or system adminstrators. If you can understand XML-based authoring, you should be able to follow everything in this book with no problem.
The weakness is that the book gives less detail than I would have liked about how to actually customize specific aspects of Arbortext. There is information on some of the possibilities for customizing Arbortext (and there are lots of them), but not much on the nuts-and-bolts of implementing such customizations, beyond setting some basic preferences. Of course, there is a lot of power for customizing and extending Arbortext under the hood, and much of that is understandably out of scope for this kind of book. But I thought there were some configuration options that could have been explored in a bit more depth without going beyond the bounds of the target audience. As an example, the book mentions several of the things you can tweak by modifying the doctype configuration file (DCF), but it doesn't show any examples of how a user would actually do this. It would have been helpful to have a brief example of exactly what you would need to change in the DCF if you wanted to, for instance, prevent a system attribute from being displayed in the editing window, or specify that text inside a <code> element should not be spell-checked.
Happily, the book doesn't really leave you hanging. At the end, the author gives pointers to a number of very helpful online resources that can fill some of the gaps, and help implementers learn more and develop their expertise.
I would recommend this book for anyone just getting started with an Arbortext Editor environment, and especially for anyone trying to bootstrap their own environment without the help of a consultant or VAR. You will almost certainly need more than this book to really get production ready, but Arbortext 101 will definitely give you a big head start on the process.
I know the author will also be offering companion books that will go into more depth on specific types of customizations, such as creating stylesheets to control the appearance of published output, and using Arbortext with the PTC content server. If those books are as accessible and clear as this one, this series will become a fantastic resource for Arbortext implementers and maintainers.
The info on custom directory was worth the price of the book for me. I'll be referring to sections on dcf and pcf files as well.