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DocBook vs. DITA: Will The Real Standard Please Stand Up?


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Presented by Teresa Mulvihill at Documentation and Training West, May 6-9, 2008 Vancouver, BC

Over a decade ago DocBook became the standard for those 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 the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) as standard for XML documentation. DITA offered an architecture in which to create and publish structured content. Makers of XML editors advertise seamless integration with DITA. Does this leave DocBook on the shelf? Are these two seemingly rival standards really that different? This presentation answers these questions with comparative examples, allowing the audience to decide for themselves.

Published in: Technology, Business

DocBook vs. DITA: Will The Real Standard Please Stand Up?

  1. 1. DocBook versus DITA: Will the real standard please stand up? Author: Teresa Mulvihill
  2. 2. About Teresa Mulvihill t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide Bachelor of Science in International Communications and Technology Working experience… <ul><li>In Europe </li></ul><ul><li>In North America </li></ul><ul><li>In Asia & South Pacific </li></ul>
  3. 3. t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide Companies, clients, and partners Companies Partners Hardware Clients Software Clients Network Security Clients Others
  4. 4. DocBook Vs DITA – Table of Contents t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide <ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>Definitions </li></ul><ul><li>Concepts </li></ul><ul><li>Comparisons </li></ul><ul><li>Compatibility </li></ul><ul><li>Future possibilities </li></ul><ul><li>Make your own decision </li></ul>
  5. 5. DocBook Vs DITA – Background t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide 1991 1999 HaL Computer Systems 1998 2004
  6. 6. DocBook Vs DITA – Definitions t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide DocBook is a document type definition (DTD) for writing technical books and articles, with the structure that such forms imply. DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) is both a DTD and a set of rules for writing online contextual documentation such as software help files.
  7. 7. DocBook Vs DITA – Concepts t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide DocBook is hierarchical by nature, and must be developed to allow for single-sourced content. DITA separates content from context, allowing multiple architectures of information. DocBook is a fixed element and attribute set. DITA is extensible, allowing the definition of information types.
  8. 8. DocBook Vs DITA – Comparisons t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide Topic-based Separation of content and context Specialization Key Features Large set of elements and attributes targeted for technical documentation Topic oriented Context Book (section) oriented
  9. 9. DocBook Vs DITA – Comparisons t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide ditamap file with all files and each file’s related links Document File Regular XML file called an include file with all files included in the document bat, bin, dtd, etc. files, and transformation engine Download and Installation bat, bin, dtd, etc. files and eDE able to run with as is
  10. 10. DocBook Vs DITA – Comparisons t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide Small, growing community Community Well supported by the XML community Unrestricted, but all need development Output PDF HTML HTMLHelp
  11. 11. DocBook Vs DITA – Comparisons t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide DITA is impressively engineered, but can be too industrial-strength. Complexity With a little development, DocBook can do what DITA is attempting on a smaller scale.
  12. 12. DocBook Vs DITA – Comparisons t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide
  13. 13. DocBook Vs DITA – Compatibility t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide <ul><li>Similar structures </li></ul><ul><li>Easy(ish) mapping </li></ul><ul><li>Online communities and companies are already attempting to facilitate compatibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oasis Open Document </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flatiron Solutions </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. DocBook Vs DITA – Future possibilities t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Slide The only constant is change… Possible with training for reviewers Collaboration management Book hierarchy enables easier collaboration Community is working on a plug-in WIKIs Possible with development XMLMind, XMLSpy, ArborText, FrameMaker… Software XMLMind, XMLSpy, ArborText, FrameMaker…
  15. 15. DocBook Vs DITA – Make your own decision Slide t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs Medium to large Small to medium Budget One month plus Immediate Integration time frame XML, FrameMaker XML, MS Word, FrameMaker Documentation input Various PDF, HTML, HTMLHelp Documentation output Large Small to medium Documentation volume
  16. 16. DocBook Vs DITA – The End Slide Thank you! Time for Q&A… t2a Communications - LiveTechDocs