OASIS Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) TC


  1. What is DITA?

    The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an XML-based, end-to-end architecture for authoring, producing, and delivering readable information as discrete, typed topics.

  2. What is DITA good for?
    • Managing readable information
    • Reusing information in many different combinations and deliverables
    • Creating online information systems such as User Assistance (help) or web resource
    • Creating minimalist books for easier authoring and use
  3. These terms keep coming up in DITA conversations; what do they mean?
    topic-oriented authoring
    Creating a unit of information for a single subject. The topics can then be assembled into help systems or books that require a particular selection and organization of subjects.
    information typing
    Identifying the type of topic, such as task, concept, reference, example, and so on. The type of the topic may determine its structure, such as a task having steps. In DITA, an XML DTD or Schema guides the writer to author information with the correct structure for the topic type.
    Extensibility with inheritance, which allows the creation of new types that inherit processing rules from existing types. For example, API documentation is a particular kind of reference information and requires more specific rules and descriptive markup than a generic reference type. DITA lets you define a new type and reuse the processing of the base type (providing new processing only for different requirements of the new type). As a result, topics from different domains with different markup and markup rules can be built together into one help file, Web site, or book
  4. What does a DITA topic look like?
      <concept id="simpleconcept">
        <title>The DITA concept topic</title>
        <shortdesc>This type of topic provides background or orientation.</shortdesc>

    A concept topic has a title, a short description, and a descriptive body.

    </conbody> </concept>
  5. Can DITA topics represent anything more complex?

    DITA information types can define a structure as simple or complex as the subject of the description. DITA provides core concept, reference, and task types but supports defining new types through specialization. Also, DITA topics can be nested to create larger, composite information structures. For instance, the DITA Language Reference in the DITA distribution is a book-length set of individual, specialized topics arranged into a single, book-like structure.

  6. Where is a simple example of topic specialization?

    In the DITA distribution, look at the concept.dtd and concept.mod files. The mod file specializes the topic body so that a concept body has introductory content followed by any number of subsections or examples.

  7. Where is a simple example of domain specialization?

    In the DITA distribution, look at the ui-domain.mod and ui-domain.ent files. The mod file specializes general phrases to distinguish the names of UI components such as menus, windows, and so on. These UI elements are available in the same contexts as the phrase elements on which they are based and can continue to be processed as phrases where appropriate. To create special behavior for a UI element (perhaps underlining the <shortcut> element, for example), you would simply define a rule for the UI element in an overriding XSLT script.

  8. How do I select and organize topics for a particular deliverable?

    You create a map to organize topics into the hierarchy for a help system or website or into a nested sequence for a book. You can also generate navigation hierarchies from the map and generate links that get added to the topics.

  9. What does a DITA map look like?
      <map title="Getting Started With DITA">
        <topicref href="authoring.xml">
          <topicref href="simpleconcept.xml"/>
          <topicref href="simpletask.xml"/>
          <topicref href="simplereference.xml"/>
          <topicref href="simplemap.xml"/>
        <topicref href="specialization.xml">
          <topicref href="topictype.xml"/>
          <topicref href="domaintype.xml"/>
          <topicref href="processing.xml"/>
  10. What deliverables or publishing channels can DITA support?

    The trend in information delivery is to deliver content as closely as possible to the point of use, typically as integrated help systems, web sites, or how-to instruction pages. By evolving and extending the DITA transformations, DITA's topic-oriented content can be used to exploit new features or delivery channels as they become available.

  11. How can I get my hands on DITA?
  12. Where can I discuss DITA?
    • DITA XML.org forum: the official community gathering place, information resource, and online forum for the DITA OASIS Standard.
    • dita-users Yahoo!Group: an email list for supporters of DITA.
    • XML doc forum: a mailing list where writers, developers, product and service vendors, and others discuss the application of XML, SGML, and related technologies to structured authoring, particularly authoring of documentation for computer software and hardware.
    • TECHWR-L forum : an Internet-based community and resource for technical communicators worldwide.
  13. Is DITA a standard?

    DITA has been submitted to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) and accepted as a Technical Activity (see OASIS Darwin Information Typing Architecture TC).