The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an XML-based architecture for authoring, producing, and delivering technical information. DITA divides content into small, self-contained topics that can be reused in different deliverables. The extensibility of DITA permits organizations to define specific information structures and still use standard tools to work with them. DITA is often compared against DocBook, a similar XML schema.
This tutorial uses the DITA Open Toolkit 22.214.171.124 and the corresponding PDF plugin release, and Wrycan's demo text. This assumes you have a working DITA environment and can run the default formatting with PDF plugin.
Adobe FrameMaker 9 allows to use Ditaval based filtering of content while producing following output from a DITA Map. For using the Ditaval filtering with FrameMaker, first create a ditaval file specifying the filtering criteria and then select this ditaval file while producing the output.
First of all, understand that you don’t have to learn it. Every year more and more toolds come out that help place a layer between you and the native XML. In a few years time you will hardly even realise there is XML underneath.
While topic relationships can be stored in the topics themselves, as products evolve and user interfaces change, a topic that was required for release 1.0 of a product may no longer be needed in release 2.3. If related topics are maintained at the topic level, removing a topic that is no longer part of the system may involve modifying the related topics of a dozen different DITA files.
DITA is useful for helping writers create small units of organized information that can be used in multiple contexts. Of course, the reader's problem then becomes locating the information they want in a quick, reasonable timeframe. Although DITA provides enough metadata to simplify searching, or even to present information the reader needs based on a profile, there are some media that cannot make use of those facilities. To bridge that gap, you can use the tried and true index.
Claude Vedovini, the developer behind the DITA Open Platform, offers some thoughts about trends on the Web such as cloud computing, the usefulness of social networks when starting a small business, and Amazon S3.
Conditional processing is a way to determine which content is published at any one time. There are a number of attributes available on most DITA elements. Basically, you use the metadata to filter the content. For example, let’s assume you are writing the installation guide for a software application. You may store all the instructions for Linux, Windows and Mac OS in one file.
DITA is quickly becoming the dominant XML schema for topic-oriented authoring. DITA is a highly practical way of moving to XML authoring in general and granular content reuse in particular. DITA distinguishes itself from predecessor standards by explicitly rejecting the book paradigm in favour of a topic-oriented model.
The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an XML-based, end-to-end architecture for authoring, producing, and delivering technical information. This architecture consists of a set of design principles for creating 'information-typed' modules at a topic level and for using that content in delivery modes such as online help and product support portals on the Web. This document is a roadmap for DITA: what it is and how it applies to technical documentation.
One of DITA’s most attractive features is its support for incremental adoption: you can adopt DITA quickly and easily using a subset of its capabilities, and then add investment over time as your content strategy evolves and expands. However, this incremental continuum has also resulted in confusion, as communities at different stages of adoption claim radically different numbers for cost of migration and return on investment. The DITA Maturity Model addresses this confusion by dividing DITA adoption into six levels, each with its own required investment and associated return on investment. You can assess your own capabilities and goals relative to the model and choose the appropriate initial adoption level for your needs and schedule.
Many of us who attended the STC Carolina DITA Workshop on October 18th, 2014, have been using DITA. We wanted a refresher course — reminders of best practices and how to work more effectively in DITA. Others wanted to learn new tools and techniques to improve their chances of landing a job.
As DITA diversifies to occupy more roles within an organization, single- application solutions can no longer provide the specialized support each author or product may require. Instead, a cross-application, cross-silo strategy that shares DITA as a common semantic currency lets groups use the toolset most appropriate for their content authoring and management needs, while sharing content and even moving authoring responsibility between groups throughout the content life cycle. Beyond automation of known processes, we now have the flexibility to combine new applications and sources of content as needed, providing processing flexibility and an adaptable, evolutionary content strategy.
Inline links and citations can be disruptive to the flow of information. Try to delete them because a topic is a discrete unit of information that is meaningful when it is displayed alone.
DITA provides a powerful means of linking using relationship tables. The benefit of using a relationship table is the ability to create and maintain links in one place with the map rather than in the topics. Links can be created both between topics of the same information type and between topics of different information types that are not directly related through parent/child relationships. Therefore, the best practice for linking in DITA is to use a relationship table within a map.
DITA is XML, so any XML editor can be used to write DITA code. But that doesn’t mean every XML editor is best suited for the job of producing DITA. As DITA has grown in popularity in the technical writing field, the market has matured and a number of XML editors have appeared that are in some way optimized for creating documentation based in DITA.
Since adaptation and reuse are core ideas of DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture), perhaps we'll be forgiven if we adapt and reuse old Beatles standards to explain the newest XML standards (hey, maybe it's the only way to make XML sound catchy). DITA is an IBM gift to the technical documentation community that was approved as a standard this spring by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), the hosts for many XML interchange standards such as ebXML. Ever since, tech writers have been buzzing about an easier way to get into structured topic-based writing with DITA XML and asking XML Editor vendors to add support for DITA.
In this podcast, Mike Hamilton of Madcap Software talks about their phased approach to handling DITA with Flare. In Phase I, you’ll have the ability to import DITA topics and export to webhelp and other targets. In this sense, Flare functions as a transform engine. In Phase 2, you can use Flare for native DITA authoring. Phase 1 is on the cusp of release, but Phase II won’t be available until quarter one of next year.
In the same way that the system needs to integrate all the various components from different suppliers, creating the user documentation can create a challenge: How do you take existing content from partners and incorporate it in your documentation set?