The Drawbacks to DITA

Does DITA have drawbacks? Yes, of course.

  • It’s more complex than most typical wiki┬ámakeup languages. To some extent, this is a reflection of its power, but it also means that casual users can really hurt themselves.
  • DITA output must be created – compiled, in effect – using some fairly complex compilers. Again, this is to some extent the source of DITA’s power, but it also means that you need a person skilled in developing and maintaining the DITA compiler.
  • You are going to have hundreds of DITA files, so you are going to need some sort of source-code repository system. This can be GIT or SVN, but you may need more.
  • DITA is very aware of the ‘elements’ within each DITA topic, so to get the full advantage of DITA, you need a way to track and manage element IDs. Content Management systems exist to do this, but they are expensive and require their own level of expertise.
  • So-called DITA-aware editors are available, but many of them cost several hundred dollars per seat. (There are plug-ins for Eclipse that handle DITA fairly well, and are free.)

Should your organization be using DITA? It depends on your goals and needs. We’ll dig into this in the next post.


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