DITA: One Cool Document Format
By Eric Armstrong on Aug 13, 2007
DITA provides major benefits as a structured-authoring solution:
- It's designed from the ground up for reuse.
- All content is divided into "topics"
- A tutorial, man page, PDF, HTML page, help topic, printed book, and training course can all use the same topic
- Fixed transclusions (content references, or conrefs) let you reuse boilerplate without having to rewrite it
- Variable transclusions and conditional metadata let you single-source a topic for multiple versions, products, audiences, and deliverables.
- It separates presentation and content
- Authors work with styling that lets them see what they're doing, without worrying about page breaks or branding.
- Final branding and styling is done at publishing time.
- It's easily extensible (or "specialized", in DITA terms.
- New topic types can be defined by extending old ones
- New element types can be created within them, to create semantically-relevant tags.
- Existing editors and publication tools work without change, defaulting to the parent.
- The standard DITA types (Content, Reference, and "Task", or procedure) are extended from the base type, Topic.
- An FAQ type is a specialization of Concept. It allows for a definition list, but calls it "faqlist". It allows for a term entry, but calls it "question", and it allows for a definition entry, but calls it "answer". Other element types that would ordinarily be legal in a Concept topic are outlawed, so an FAQ topic contains only questions and answers. Note that anything legal in a definition entry is legal in an answer. Meanwhile, any DITA-aware production system or editor handles the new elements without difficulty.
- It fits easily into my design thinking, and allows for some very cool futures, including