TechCommix is an XML grammar and GUI that allows technical communicators to build comics based on the principles of structured authoring. TechCommix XML uses elements of two markup languages—ComicsML and DITA—the combination of which offers a means of tagging elements connected to a comics narrative (such as speech, action, narration) and to structured technical documentation (such as context, step, example). The resulting language allows a technical writer to differentiate between instructional and entertainment content, facilitating content analysis and reuse. Additionally, the TechCommix GUI provides assisted means of building web comics from DITA input. In this online environment, a technical writer can transform an XML file into an HTML deliverable with multiple presentation options—extending usability and accessibility beyond the current standard of image-based web comics. Future work will examine the efficacy of these comics in communicating procedural information.
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