The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an OASIS standard authoring and publishing framework. DITA is much more than just marking up documents with XML tags. It embraces concepts such as single-source publishing, inheritence, topic-based authoring, and content reuse.
In our experience, DITA is a relatively
easy sell to management as it provides great potential benefits to organizations:
- DITA makes it easier to reuse information and deliver it in a wide variety of formats. It used to be enough to generate both online help and paper documents from the same source, something that can be achieved relatively easily with desktop publishing software and "helper" software such as RoboHelp. Today, however, many more formats and platforms need to be supported: smartphones, tablets, eBook readers, cloud-based storage, and so on.
- It reduces time to market, and can be integrated into existing business processes such as AGILE development, continuous publishing, and eLearning.
- It can dramatically reduce localization costs.
However, it is important also to understand the true costs of implementing DITA:
- While a fully-functional toolkit is provided as part of the DITA standard, this always needs heavy customization to generate documents that conform to corporate standards. What's more, this customization requires specialist knowledge and must be done for each output format to be supported (PDF, HTML, and so on).
- While DITA-compatible authoring tools are now widely available, they aren't always cheap or include the functionality you need. While some desktop publishing tools, FrameMaker for example, can be adapted to work with DITA, others cannot and will need to be replaced. What's more, while it's fine to ask developers, trainers, and marketing managers to contribute to providing content, every content provider is going to need a DITA editor.
- Content management is another consideration: many organizations already have an expensive site-wide content management system (CMS) which may or may not support DITA.
- Retraining technical authors used to presentation-based desktop publishing or office tools to use DITA's semantic, rules-driven approach should not be underestimated, either.
Electropubs has been working with DITA since 2004. During this time, we have implemented several complete DITA projects, from first contact, through the presentation and pilot project phases, to customization of templates and final training of content providers.
Whether you are looking for an external consultant to accompany you thoughout your DITA project, or you have more specific integration, customization, or training needs, you can benefit from this wealth of experience. Please don't hesitate to contact us for an informal discussion of your needs.