Adobe and Autodesk: Success in Standards-Based Content Creation and Delivery at Global Companies

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) has seen rapid adoption and implementation. This is especially true when you compare the adoption of DITA with other standards-based approaches to content creation and distribution. Here we are less than a year after DITA 1.0 has been approved and major companies are shipping large multi-language documentation and Help sets that have been created using DITA. We can also point to DITA-specific user groups and conferences, and a myriad of vendors who are now touting DITA support in their products. All of this activity is over and above the use of DITA at IBM, the company that developed DITA originally and has been actively promoting it through the OASIS standards body.

This rapid adoption speaks to the usefulness, generality, and extensibility of DITA—and also to the clear recognition of the need for this kind of solution among major companies. Why is DITA finding success? Some consistent details emerged from the research.

  1. It’s available, well thought out, and comprehensive.
  2. Users “get it”—the tagging makes sense and accurately models their work.
  3. The ready style sheets and tools are a very solid starting point for implementation.
  4. As a result, DITA encourages repurposing of content into many required formats.
  5. The topic orientation encourages reuse, and aligns well with current thinking about information development.
  6. The reuse model in DITA is strong enough to support robust content management, including applications such as personalization and localization.
  7. There is evidence that DITA interest reaches beyond technical publications and online Help systems. We are seeing use of DITA-encoded content in applications such as call center support and Web publishing.

Together, these aspects of DITA combine to provide significant business value for organizations, including lower content development costs, lower localization costs, faster time to market, improved quality, and improved usability. This paper looks in detail at two major companies—Adobe and Autodesk—who have adopted DITA and are using it for major projects. It discusses the content development problems these companies faced, how they identified DITA as part of the solution, what solution they implemented, and how they have fared in using this solution.

The paper then looks at the implications of these case studies for other organizations creating product support content, and concludes with some thoughts about the applicability of DITA for other kinds of content.

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