Saturday, January 16, 2010

Quick and rude guide to DITA - Part 1 of 3

First, a DITA overview. DITA is an architecture. It is a collection of design principles that:
* Is inclined heavily towards self-sufficient information modules
* Lets its basics to be inherited into derived classes
* Borrows its tags from HTML and XHTML

To write in DITA, you need two things:
(i) Know how to think in chunks. Each topic you write must answer one - and only one - of these questions: What is this? How does it work? What should I do to make this work?
(ii) Know what tag to use where. DITA tags are XML tags, governed by the DITA DTDs and schemas.

To keep matters simple, we'll look only at three kinds of topics: concept, task, and reference. Here's more about them (to see a larger picture, click on the picture):

Here's a list of some of the more commonly used tags (to see a larger picture, click on the picture):

In the next blog post, we'll do a short DITA exercise. In the meantime, have a look at this user guide and begin thinking in chunks and tags... (Disambiguation: Read Kai's question - in the comments to this post - and my response to Kai.)

P.S. If you really need more information, here's some reading material about basic concepts and about tags.




Kai said...

Sorry to say, but the linked user guide is quite an awful example for topic-based authoring. Look at the table of contents and try to count the task topics.

"Using the Power Defrost Feature" is NOT a task, but a poorly written topic that focuses on product features instead of tasks. The task is "Defrost food" or "Defrosting food".

And don't get me started on the other issues, such as inconsistent use of "please", inconsistent use of "important" and "note" icons, warnings at the end of topic after a page break, camel case capitalisation in headings...

Anindita said...

:) Yep, it's awful! That's the very reason I put it up here - so that people can immediately start thinking, "Hey, what's a concept - or reference - doing in the middle of a task?"

Bijoy Raj Guha said...


Please clarify me, Is this what my understanding say as minimalism and Information Mapping?....

Kind Regards
Bijoy Raj Guha