Re: Does anyone use DITA? Is it difficult to work with?

Subject: Re: Does anyone use DITA? Is it difficult to work with?
From: Rebecca Stevenson <rjstevenson -at- sprynet -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sun, 23 Dec 2007 05:21:59 -0500 (GMT-05:00)

Content is not created "by" DITA; DITA is an XML schema, and has nothing at all to say about presentation. The content that comes out the other end will look exactly the same as any other content, but it will be structured according the rules of the XML.

The advantages of using DITA are (supposed to be): Fiercely structured content; a largely open-source toolset; content in XML means you can easily (ha, ha) provide multiple output formats and apply rules to their processing.

It is not, IMO, easy to use yet, but the problem I had with it lies in how you generate decent looking *output* (which apparently requires a fairly high degree of XSL expertise,). There are tools that will guide you in creating content according to DITA rules (including Framemaker, now).

Caveat: we are not using DITA presently, but I've been doing some research on it for a project we were considering.

Hope that's some help,

Rebecca Stevenson
Senior Technical Writer

>Just read Tony Self's description of DITA (see link below). It sounds so
>horrifically technical I think I'll avoid DITA till the rocket scientists
>make a user-friendly HAT out of it. I'm biased with far more experience in
>the writing vs. technical side of tech writing, though.
>His article:
>Other sources:
>Cannot access because of my company anti-freeware firewall:
>The best one, which still leaves DITA frustratingly opaque to me, is Scott
>Abel's article:
>Nothing I've read (in 4 or 5 sources so far) about DITA shows any
>pictorial examples. Is it so conceptual, like e=mc (squared), that it
>can't be shown using diagrams, images, etc.?
>A good tech writer should be able put images into the content (a picture
>is worth a thousand words) to provide examples, or use metaphors to make
>the concept visual or in some other way easier to understand.
>Could someone on the list do this?
>How about some example pages of content created by DITA, vs. content not
>created by DITA--and the advantages of one over the other? Or will that
>still be opaque because (it sounds like) DITA is a set of tools for
>creating output and does not display in the output?
>Tim Mantyla


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