Last night on Twitter I asked “Looking for a way to tag topics in an authoring platform. Not part of Author-it, does any app do it?” and a few helpful people gave me suggestions.

I later clarified and thought I’d expand on that here. My clarification was that “Re tagging: we want to tag topics in the authoring tool so whatever the output, the user can filter on tags eg, v1.0/email or v2.3/document”, it was at this point I realised I needed more than 140 characters to explain what I was looking for…

Our product is in the throes of moving to a modular/component delivery. We will no longer have one installer to install one big product with everything in it, instead you will likely (it’s still being figured out) get a core application which you can then enhance with additional modules.

The challenge to our team will be to document this product in a way that is useful to both the people who might use the application and to those people who customise the application for specific customer needs (which may or may not involve customising a module or creating a bespoke module for a customer).

One idea that may help us in this would be the ability to tag all of our content with module/component/functionality tags, and a version tag. There may be more tags required but we can figure those out later.

However, the authoring product we currently have, Author-it, doesn’t offer this functionality. We have looked into a way of manually doing it by hacking XML files but it’s less than ideal.

So what I was asking for, badly, on Twitter was a native application that includes tagging of topics on the authoring side, with the tags then available in the output. Ultimately we want to be able to build dynamic sets of information AND allow the users to change the view of the information based on the tag(s) they’ve chosen as well.

MadCap Flare comes closest as it at least has a notion of ‘tags’ in the product but not sure if that allows a dynamically built output, and Robohelp allows tagging of returned search results but no way of producing that content dynamically.

Does such a product exist? It  feels like it should, that it’s not a million miles away from what a lot of technical writing teams would want… but I don’t think it does. Prove me wrong!