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.
The abbreviation DITA stands for 'Darwin Information Typing Architecture', an information architecture based on XML. DITA is not a mere reinvention of the wheel: rather, it sets the standards for known structuring requirements. The most striking feature of this architecture is the clear orientation towards a technology for structuring, which has already proved its worth in online documentation.
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, books, and Web sites.
Both the DITA and the DocBook specification are quite alive and well in organizations, and each is evolving into its own distinct application niches, with DITA looking to be turning into the default standard for large scale enterprises, while DocBook works more effectively at the small to intermediate level. What’s perhaps more interesting is the Microsoft Word, even with support for XML as provided by OOXML, is not making as much of an inroad in the structured document market, in great part because it is fairly difficult to constrain people’s use of the word-processing program to a limited, finite subset of potential styles.
Many organizations have turned to component-oriented content creation to create more sophisticated knowledge products, in more languages, and at lower cost. Our research shows that organizations that use XML authoring are more mature than their peers with respect to the adoption of best practices for search and metadata. However, the use of native DITA metadata capabilities is rare, and many are also missing out on opportunities to use taxonomy for content reuse and improved content findability. This article examines the metadata capabilities within DITA (and content management systems), discusses two major benefits that can be achieved by using descriptive metadata and taxonomy, and recommends some best practices for getting started with metadata for component-oriented content.
In this podcast, Marlene Martineau of New Dawn Technologies explains why they adopted DITA, how they adopted it, the benefits they're experiencing, and the reasons why she'll never go back.
Want to get involved in the formation of one of the most important XML standards impacting content professionals? You can. And, you should. The folks at OASIS—the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards—have made it easy for just about anyone to participate.
The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an XML-based, end-to-end architecture for authoring, producing, and delivering technical information. This paper describes how DITA-based documentation was implemented at CEDROM-SNi, one of Canada's leading on-line news content aggregators. The project delivers documentation as diverse as user training materials and Web Services reference guides targeted to programmers. We focus on the benefits, how tos, and lessons learned. Technical documentation has its own unique challenges. Its deliverables range from simple reference guides and educational material to complex, multilingual procedure manuals. Critical success factors of a documentation project are numerous and diverse – usability, deadlines, cost, language, delivery media (paper, online) – all of which have their own purpose and challenges. This paper discusses these issues and provides a framework for future DITA projects.
In this highly interactive workshop, Amy Jo Kidd will present participants with a fun exercise on task-based, structured writing that illustrates in an immediate and clear way how to use Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) to manage a company's inventory of content. The workshop is a must for students, the curious, the fearful, and the eager who have heard the buzzwords—content management, structured writing, single sourcing—but could not get beyond the mind-fuzz that buzz creates.
Thanks to my Google News Alert service, I recently discovered some on-demand XML Editors supporing DITA. While Salesforce democratized software on-demand in the CRM market, I am still perplexed on the future of on-demand pure play software. So let's see first what makes on-demand software, also known as Saas (Software as a Service), so attractive nowadays. I see five compelling reasons.
XML is the future. You hear it at every conference you go to, in every magazine you pick up, in every article you read on-line. For technical writers, right now that future comes down to two products—DocBook or DITA. But what exactly are they, and which one should you choose? They are schemas for creating XML.
With DITA implementations on the rise, and an entrenched DocBook community already in place, the resulting market interest has spurred interest in automated DocBook to DITA conversion. So I would expect offerings of automated DocBook to DITA conversion scripts to emerge in the next 6-10 months. This article addresses the real questions, "What should I expect from automated tools?" and "Will they work for me?" from the viewpoint of live experience with numerous DocBook to DITA conversions. The answers to these questions are not usually obvious.
More than a decade ago DocBook became the standard for the few brave souls forging ahead in XML publications. DocBook offered a cheaper and more efficient way to publish to multiple formats. Single-sourcing became a reality for hardware and software companies. However, in recent years, many in technical documentation publications have proclaimed DITA as the standard for XML documentation. DITA offered architecture in which to create and publish structured content. Are these two seemingly rival standards really that different? This article from Teresa Mulvihill answers this question with comparative examples, and allows you, the audience, to decide for yourselves.
There are at least two broad categories of technology that managers often confuse. The first is technology that replaces a particular skill. For example, the cash register at a McDonalds has technology that relieves cashiers from doing math, so they can hire people who are not skilled in math. The second is technology that allows a skilled practitioner to be more productive. For example, the computer makes it possible to write and edit text much more easily than a typewriter, but it won’t make a bad writer better.
One of the more popular posts on this blog is titled DITA is not the answer and, whilst things are certainly moving forward, it’s a little sad that it is still valid. A recent comment on that post suggested that it’s not just DITA that is lacking, it’s the working realities of single source that is flawed.
This whitepaper defines a new publishing paradigm, which we will call dynamic content delivery. Dynamic delivery changes the rules, putting the reader in charge of what content is important and how it should be packaged. It transforms publishing to an audience of many to publishing to an audience of one.
The DITA Open Toolkit can transform your DITA files into a wide variety of output types. When you first install it, it's easy to get the impression that you need to know Ant well to use it, but you can pack most of its available options into a single Java™ command line.
This presentation describes how authoring DITA topics and managing those topics in a content management system (CMS) will contain translation costs while improving overall information quality. This is not a recommendation for any particular product. It is a guide to how one group built their candidate list and computes return on investment.
DITA experts Don Day, Michael Priestley, and Gretchen Hargis address the topic architecture of DITA, tips and techniques, and general DITA questions.
DITA supports the proper construction of specialized DTDs from any higher-level DTD or schema. The base DTD is ditabase DTD, which contains an archetype topic structure and three additional peer topics that are typed specializations from the basic topic: concept, task, and reftopic. The principles of specialization and inheritance resemble the principle of variation in species proposed by Charles Darwin. So the name reminds us of the key extensibility mechanism inherent in the architecture.
DITA is not another tool like FrameMaker or MS Word. It is a standard and a specification that is supported more or less effectively by open-source and commercial tools. As a standard, DITA is a way of working, a way of thinking about the structure of information. It's greatest benefits come from understanding the architecture and deciding if you're ready to make the leap into a new authoring and publishing environment. It's definitely worth the effort because the benefits to productivity and quality are huge.
It’s hard to go to a content management or publishing technology conference these days without there being a presentation on DITA — the Darwinian Information Typing Architecture. For the uninitiated, DITA is an XML architecture for authoring and publishing topic-based content, typically technical documentation. The brainchild of IBM, where it is used internally for many documentation projects, DITA is now an open-source standard under the aegis of OASIS.
If DITA seems like a good idea, but you cannot make the case for it, you can move towards structured writing and make your documentation “future-proof” by meeting the standard half-way. At the company I work for, we tech writers created manuals in parallel, but separate to online help. Over time, this gave us a documentation set that was inconsistent in places and hard to maintain to boot. Topic-based authoring which reuses topics in print and online can fix that, of course.