My situation is such that I will be looking for a new job next week as this contract ends. For a tech writer, it is good to have DITA on the ole' resume. So, I just wanted to know if anyone has a site or book or tutorial on how to learn Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). Thanks all.
I think this question is about programming, not writing. What do our tech writers think? Leave this open or close it?– Goodbye Stack ExchangeFeb 22, 2015 at 21:54
4@NeilFein DITA is an information architecture/organizational scheme; while it's definitely on the geeky side and was presumably influenced by software principles, it's a tech-writing thing and IMO on-topic.– Monica CellioFeb 24, 2015 at 19:37
I don't know how much benefit you'll get on a resume from having read about, as opposed to used, DITA, but some knowledge is better than none.
DITA is both a specific framework and an approach. My documentation group is currently working through the book DITA Best Practices: A Roadmap for Writing, Editing, and Architecting in DITA by Laura Bellamy, Michelle Carey, and Jenifer Schlotfeldt and we're finding it a good introduction so far. We are not planning to migrate to the DITA framework, but we've been trying to apply a similar approach on our own and we're finding the book helpful for pointing out issues we haven't necessarily thought enough about. The book contains a lot of information specific to the framework too, so it should be even more helpful for somebody who's going all-in on DITA.
The book is under 300 pages and not terribly dense, so you should be able to absorb it in less than a week.
1Thank you so much Monica. I will definately look into the book DITA Best Practices: A Roadmap for Writing, Editing, and Architecting in DITA by Laura Bellamy, Michelle Carey, and Jenifer Schlotfeldt. DITA is much more involved and complicated that I realized. Feb 24, 2015 at 19:35
I don't know if this will be way too late but still, here's a free tool I found for learning DITA:
I'm currently following the course, although it's dropped down my todos a bit. I'm already familiar with most of the content from my own reading and from that perspective I'll say it's very comprehensive and thorough.
Although I already have the basic ideas I would recommend this for beginners, it definitely starts simple.
Here's the complete styleguide which explains in detail how to use each element if you're diving in and trying it out:
For a more hands-on introduction, you might consider downloading and installing the DITA Open Toolkit. After you have set up the toolkit, you can:
- Take a look at the DITA XML source for a real publication, namely the DITA Open Toolkit user's guide. The source is located in the docsrc folder, but you can also access it on GitHub.
- Use this source to build the final output, for example, HTML or a PDF. To do this, see Rebuilding the DITA-OT documentation (or Chapter 20 in the PDF version).
- Open a .dita topic file. Try to find that topic in the document by searching for its title. Notice how the XML follows a specific topic structure. In DITA, a topic is the basic unit of authoring.
- Open a .ditamap file and compare what you see to the table of contents in this publication. Notice how it uses DITA map elements to organise a series of topics.
- Make a small change to the title of a topic (perhaps after making a backup copy) and rebuild the publication. Notice how your change is rolled into the new version of the document.
- At this point, you'll realise that it could be quite a challenge to write a document in DITA without some additional tool support. This is where "DITA-aware" tools such as Oxygen XML Author come in to provide editing support. Note that Oxygen comes bundled with the DITA Open Toolkit. There is a list of tools that use the DITA Open Toolkit on dita-ot.org. See also this list of DITA-related software tools.
Section 220.127.116.11 of the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) Oasis standard contains more on the benefits of topic-based authoring.
For more examples of DITA-based authoring, check out the list of Open Source DITA Collections on oasis-open.org.