In our last post, “Do You Need DITA?”, we looked at what DITA was. Next, we will look at its advantages.
- It’s probably the best method available today for creating content that needs to appears in different formats, e.g. PDF, web, mobile, etc. Commands are available to choose between long-form and short-form names based on the available display area. For example, a pop-up might say simply “DITA”, while a PDF might say “Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA)”
- It reduces translation costs. Because it is extremely modular, only changed DITA files need to be re-translated. Updates to the primary-language content (e.g., English) trigger translation only for files that have changed. Furthermore, DITA supports certain types of do-not-translate and lock functions, to further minimize the amount of translation to be done.
- It supports content re-use. Several techniques are available to let you standardize chunks of content, (e.g. notes and warnings, boilerplate) and yet also customize re-use. For example, a set of instructions common to a range of products can be written once, with specific product nomenclature added automatically.
- It is highly structured, and more-or-less forces authors to follow specific templates and structures. You cannot, for example, digress into theory in the middle of a sequence or steps.
- Each ‘element’ in DITA content has an identifying label. This gives you very fine-grained control of content re-use. (An element can be a simple as a word or phrase, a step, a figure, a sequence of steps – almost anything, really.)
Are there drawbacks to DITA? Yes, of course. But that’s a topic for our next post.