informa
/
2 MIN READ
Commentary

The DITA Standard Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

You may have heard of Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) standards for content creation, and it's just as likely that your eyes glazed over as the DITA faithful sing its praises. It's easy to get down into the weeds quickly in a discussion of DITA, but at its core, it's an XML-based method for authoring content in reusable modules, organized by topic.
You may have heard of Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) standards for content creation, and it's just as likely that your eyes glazed over as the DITA faithful sing its praises. It's easy to get down into the weeds quickly in a discussion of DITA, but at its core, it's an XML-based method for authoring content in reusable modules, organized by topic.The DITA architecture was initially created by IBM, and has since been accepted as an OASIS standard. Getting started using DITA is actually fairly straightforward -- a number of content management systems and XML editors integrate tightly with the DITA Open Toolkit, which is a free download,

From the DITA 101 page on dita.xml.org, one of the best DITA resources on the Web:


The DITA OASIS Standard defines an XML architecture for designing, writing, managing, and publishing technical documentation in print and on the Web. DITA (commonly pronounced dit'-uh) builds content reuse into the authoring process for document creation and management....Focusing on a common topic model as a conceptual unit of authoring, DITA provides a core set of topic types derived from concept, task, and reference...DITA enables organizations to deliver content as closely as possible to the point-of-use, making it ideal for applications such as integrated help systems, Web sites, and how-to instruction pages.

So, why does this matter to content creators? For a number of reasons, not the least of which are that implementing DITA can save you time and a lot of money.

There was a terrific DITA case study posted on the Data Conversion Laboratory site recently. Titled How our DITA Conversion Saved us 100 Grand, for Starters, the piece focuses on a regulated medical device company that was tasked with implementing a multilanguage content management system.

Needless to say -- it is a case study, after all -- the project was a success. There's a lot of helpful detail on the process from start to finish, and while it may not apply directly to your organization's needs, there is a lot to be learned here. It's certainly worth a read for anyone considering migrating to a DITA-compliant, XML-based platform.

Tip of the hat to The Content Wrangler, where I first saw a link to this piece.