Thursday, February 25, 2010

DITA tools - 1 (Planning)

Disclaimer: IBM is my employer. But this blog post is mine own. Entirely.

The IBM Information Architecture Workbench is an Eclipse-based freeware that I find marvellously handy for organising my thoughts and then committing those thoughts to DITA files. With it, I can model my ditamaps, generate DITA stub files* for the ditamap nodes, and edit the DITA files. Plus, if I draw a line from File A to File B, it gets registered in the ditamap's relationship table. All pretty neat and clean. It shows me, visually, how my topics are arranged in my book (and lets me move around files with a drag-and-drop action). It also shows me orphan files - those nodes that I created but did not link anywhere. And, I can edit the DITA attributes very easily in the Properties view.
To see a larger picture, click on the picture

One can use this workbench for other assorted activities like Hierarchial Task Analysis diagrams and Role and Goal models but I confess I haven't been there yet. I use it as just an authoring tool. The workbench also has an inbuilt client for CVS, so I can have a multi-author scenario for my files too.

The workbench can be downloaded from To download, you need an IBM ID. Anyone can create an IBM ID for oneself - all that's asked is an email address and (I think - have forgotten) a name.

*Stub file: A stub file is a DITA topic file created for each of the nodes in the ditamap. Depending on the kind of file you specified while creating the node, the stub file has basic DITA tags for that topic type. The stub files can be opened with the workbench text editor, and edited like any other file. Thus, the workbench doubles up as an authoring software.


Tony said...

I'd never heard of "DITA" files before. I thought maybe it was something you had created for your self...
Like, I could take notes for myself and make file.tony, or something...
I see now, however, that it is an XML based technical documentation file format.

Cameron Stewart said...

I'm noticing that the download link is busted. Do you know if it is still available?

Anindita said...

Hello Cameron,

Thanks for pointing that out!

Try this link and see? It works for me but I am in the IBM intranet now so not sure if it'll work over a public network. If the link works, I'll update the blog post.



Thanks again, and sorry for not checking back on links to see if they still work.

Anindita said...

Hello again Cameron,

This link works (I tried it from outside the IBM network):

You'll need an IBM ID; you can create one.