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Technical writing and communication is a field open to both beginners and advanced content generators. One advanced topic is DITA, the “Darwin Information Typing Architecture.”
In a nutshell, DITA is a method of structured authoring, and an increasingly popular method (aka “schema”) at that.
If you’re just a beginner writer, don’t worry about DITA since it requires a steep learning curve, management commitment, and organizational resources to implement DITA. You cannot as an individual just “decide” to adopt DITA and do it on your own.
However, if your organization is considering such a decision, or would like to steer your clients in that direction, here is a great source to educate yourself about DITA, courtesy of XMetal.
What is DITA?
The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is a comprehensive framework for authoring, managing, and distributing topic-oriented information in XML.
First developed by IBM, DITA goes beyond any previous approach in helping organizations overcome barriers to XML adoption, maximize content reuse, and reduce information redundancies.
Today, DITA is a widely supported specification managed by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), the industry body responsible for many other business-oriented XML standards.
What kind of organizations can benefit from DITA?
DITA is a compelling opportunity for any organization considering an XML authoring system, or that could benefit from a reusable content strategy.
What kind of deliverables is DITA best suited for?
DITA is suitable for any kind of deliverable, including printed books, but is best suited for topic-oriented content such as:
- Online Help
- Computer-based training and testing
What is a DITA map? What is the difference between a DITA map and a Topic map?
A DITA map is a collection of topic references. It allows you to organize different combinations of topics for different outputs and deliverables. Topic maps are an ISO standard for describing knowledge structures and associating them with information resources.
While DITA maps borrow many ideas from topic maps, they are primarily concerned with the practical application to technical documentation.
The topic maps specification is a much more general reference for organizing and managing knowledge.