Benefits of using DITA
Why use DITA?
by France Baril
Topic-based DITA offers flexibility in content organization
DITA is a topic-based architecture. It allows you to order, reorder and nest topics to create any kind of information product.
DITA's modularity allows for reuse
Topics can be used in more than one deliverable at once, independently from other topics.
DITA supports information sharing with others
Content created according to DITA-principles can be transformed by any DITA-aware transform even if the creators are using different tags derived from the DITA topic.
DITA is a fit for all kinds of output format
Because DITA's architecture is based on topic structure instead of a specific output structure, like a book or an online help system based on stand alone topics it allows for topic re-use in multiple output format and stays coherent to users' context. Topics can be added to and deleted from each specific output, without affecting other outputs. It's like building multiple pieces with the same available Lego blocks. Topics can be presented one at the time in a simple flat online help system, or together in a complex multi-level book structure.
DITA allows you to add or rename tags
Because DITA is more of an architectural base than a fixed DTD/schema, you can adapt the tag vocabulary to fit your own specific needs.
DITA lets you build on what already exists and evolves well over time
Instead of starting over every time you're in need of new DTD/schema elements, you can specialize existing topics to fit your precise projects' needs. New topic types can be created from existing ones, which allows for evolution over time. One of DITA's main advantages is that adding new topics does not make previous projects incompatible with new ones. In fact, DITA allows for children elements to inherit their parent's transformation.
DITA helps you save some DTD/schema creation time
You can inherit elements or create new ones based on existing elements. Inheriting common elements saves time in terms of tag definition and transformation development. You never have to start from scratch.
DITA helps you save some style sheet creation time
Because some DTD elements are derived from others, they can inherit their properties. Style sheet formatting rules apply automatically to derived elements. Yet, you can modify that behavior, if need be.
DITA helps you save on writing time
Topic reuse means you do not need retype or copy and paste information in multiple outputs. It also leads to a need for fewer modifications as the product and its documentation evolve overtime.
DITA helps you save on translation time/fees
Topics used in many deliverables must only be translated once. Moreover, as the products and their documentation evolve, only modified topics need to be translated.
DITA allows for process automation
- Index production
- Glossary production
- Creation of overviews for modules/chapters
- Related links creation from a map-centered link base for each project
- Output delivery
You can leverage on all XML's advantages
- Content/format separation
- Consistency in content structure
- Precise and enhanced indexing/search capabilities
DITA is much smaller and simpler than other available schema/DTD
DITA is modular and extensible; therefore it does not pretend to cover everything.
DITA can be used out-of-the-box
DITA DTDs/schemas can be used as is. All most frequently used elements and topic specializations are available. Moreover, generic elements like paragraphs can be used in multiple contexts.