DITA (Darwin Information
AN INTRODUCTION TO
Separates content from formatting
XML vs HTML
Typical DITA workflow
Why DITA matters to tech writers,
Darwin: DITA utilizes principles of inheritance for
Information Typing: DITA was originally designed for
technical information based on an information
architecture of Concept, Task and Reference.
Architecture: DITA is a model for extension of both
design and processes.
DITA is a standard, not a product.
Introduced by IBM in 2001.
Managed through a not-for-profit standard body: Organization for
the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).
To adopt DITA, users need an authoring tool that supports the DITA
DITA is free, commercial DITA authoring tools are not.
Widespread adoption in Cisco, IBM, Nokia, and Oracle.
Cost savings for translation
Cost savings for copy editing and proofreading
Reduction of duplicate effort
Increased consistency of content
> DITA mechanisms for content re-use
Topic-oriented design - Information is created in self-contained
chunks that each describe a concept, task, or set of reference
material that stands on its own.
Maps - Information topics are assembled into documentation
using a map file to arrange the standalone topics into a hierarchy
that makes sense for the system or product being documented.
This gives you the flexibility of not worrying about what level of the
TOC hierarchy a specific topic will appear; simply write the topic
as standalone content, and the map will ensure that it appears in
the correct location - with the correct formatting.
Conrefs and Keyrefs
Concept Task Reference
Provides quick access to facts.
A unit of information which
is meaningful when it stands
information that users
need to know.
details such as step-by-
Provides quick access to
> DITA Maps
DITA maps offer
over the publishing
you to define the
collections of topics
at the point of
Comprehensive Filtering Support
DITA provides a convenient method for using filtered
Refers to content that applies in some situations or for
some readers, but not others.
Filter based on a variety of criteria, including product
line, audience type, region, or any other type of
metadata you can embed in the document.
Inheritance - The Darwin Part
DITA defines a basic topic structure, and then
specific types of topics are derived from this,
including task, concept, and reference.
Inheritance saves time.
DITA separates content from formatting
The formatting of the content is in a separate file
from the content.
Allows the writer to focus first on the writing
Since the formatting lies in separate files, the output
will be consistent, even when there are multiple
Single-source approach to publishing
DITA supports multiple output formats
Web pages : HTML/CSS, WordPress
Mobile app content
XML VS HTML
HTML defines how content is formatted in a web browser; XML defines
what the content is.
HTML provides a set of predefined tags; XML provides a syntax that allows
users to define their own tags.
Typical DITA Workflow
1. Identify the task topics.
2. Identify the concept and reference topics needed to support the task topics.
3. Create the topics.
4. Use DITA maps to assemble topics for each documentation deliverable.
5. Publish and deliver the content.
DITA Storm (browser-based DITA editor)
Adobe FrameMaker 8 upwards
► Production Tools
DITA Open Toolkit (open source)
► Modeling Tools
IBM Task Modeler for creating DITA Maps
Why DITA matters to tech writers?
The production of technical documents such as user manuals is constantly evolving,
as new technologies become available. Users are able to access information in many
different forms, including websites, support forums, knowledge base systems, FAQs,
and many more. DITA can help technical writers meet the challenges of producing
technical documents in an increasingly complex global market.
DITA Open Toolkit: http://www.dita-ot.org/
Getting started Guide: http://www.technical-writer.org/technical-communication/tutorial-
DITA Starter KIT: http://techwhirl.com/dita-starter-kit-everything-need-jump-dita/