I’ve recently been getting involved with the DITA documentation framework. There are various free (or free for personal use) tools to support it, but they are often command-line tools. Fancy user interfaces cost!
The tool that converts DITA XML to XHTML, PDF, etc, is such a command-line tool, with lots of options to control its behaviour. You have to specify an input map (a build manifest), and an output target. From my content base, I want to build different outputs, in different formats. So I am accumulating a folder full of .bat files, each containing a particular command, with options and file parameters. Running a bat file, in verbose mode, generates a few screen-fulls of output messages, which might or might not contain error messages.
So what I’d like is a simple front end that allows me to select a particular combination of content and format, run the command, and check the output for errors. Since I’ll want a list of the available bat files, and a bit of user interaction, I’ll do it in Excel (more as a vehicle than because I need many of Excel’s capabilities).
The key is the VBA.Interaction.Shell method. Details tomorrow.