Day One of the DITA Europe Conference in Frankfurt: Part One

The “day” really started at some point during the flight, as I arrive at Frankfurt airport at about seven in the morning. I find my way to the front of the taxi stand, am greeted with a gruff “Morgen”, by the taxi driver, and subsequently take off at breakneck speed for nearby Raunheim where the NS Frankfurt Rhein hotel is located, which is also where the conference is being held. Once there, I check in, make my way to the room and immediately have a shower. Once changed I manage to take stock of my new surroundings: the room is somewhat Spartan but functional. The bath tub I take the shower in a narrow and small, the duvet on the bed is not quite 6ft long, so I will need to sleep at an angle onto the other double bed so that my feet don’t stick out in the open, and the swank-looking leather chair is in fact too low to the ground to be either relaxing or useful. Okay, I might seem to be grumbling here, and in the end it was comfy enough for my needs. The view from the window looks into the inner courtyard of the hotel, and trains occasionally whiz at high speed in the near distance. Still somewhat wired, I settle in and end up watching the British-produced version of CNN until the keynote speaker launches the conference just after 9am.

My Room at the Frankfurt Hotel
My Room at the Frankfurt Hotel

A few minutes before the start of the conference I make my way down to the reception area, sign in and get my speaker’s tag and the thick book containing all of the conference proceedings. In the conference room I immediately see my colleague Graydon S., and soon after I am flanked by France B. who is also there as a co-presenter at our presentation, as well as another one she is giving by herself. The room rapidly fills up, and soon somewhere over a hundred people are filling the conference space. This conference is much small in terms of attendance than the last one I attended in

JoAnn Hackos launching the DITA Europe 2006 Conference
JoAnn Hackos launching the DITA Europe 2006 Conference

First JoAnn Hackos stepped up and welcomed everybody to the conference, and gave a brief speech on how DITA has progressed and seen greater adoption. She also remarked on the number of people in attendance (might have to hold it in a different venue next time, since we collectively just about filled the available conference space), and how far afield some of them came from – there was at least one fellow from Australia, and someone from China in attendance as well as people from all over the European Union and North America. She also talked briefly on the relatively rapid uptake of DITA in the industry and expressed personal interest in several of the talks to come over the next couple of days.

Michael Priestly Gives the Keynote Address at DITA Europe 2006
Michael Priestly Gives the Keynote Address at DITA Europe 2006

Then Michael Priestly from IBM came up and delivered the keynote presentation, entitled “DITA Evolves“. He was one of the original people responsible for drafting the 1.0 specification, and works out of the Toronto IBM lab. I note that he is dressed in a tie – which might seem typical for an IBM representative but is in fact the first time I have seen him in decidedly non-geek attire over the several times I have run into him. He talked about its current capabilities, how it has been adapted to suit many different uses that were not originally envisioned, and how the upcoming 1.1 specification will include better books, be more extensible, will handle automatic image scaling and better translation support.

His talk was solid and interesting, but I found that during his presentation my lack of sleep was catching up with me, despite knocking back a coke for a shot of caffeine prior to keynote. I made my excuses at the end of the talk, headed back to my room, and crashed out for a few hours.

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