Making information accessible

DITA 1.3


Friday, July 12, 2013 - 16:00

During the 90’s IBM developed an information architecture that enabled its many different documentation departments to create documentation in the same way and reuse each other’s content. In 2003 IBM donated this information architecture to the standards consortium OASIS. The DITA standard was born. OASIS released DITA 1.0 in 2004, which was virtually the same as the IBM information architecture. In 2007 DITA 1.1 was released and in 2010 DITA 1.2. Each new version contained improvements to the previous version, increasing the usability of DITA.

But what is DITA exactly? DITA stands for Darwin Information Typing Architecture. It is an XML-application for creating, managing and publishing modular information. DITA brings together all aspects important for producing good and solid information: modularity, structured authoring, information typing, separating content and presentation, single sourcing, minimalism, topic based authoring, task oriented authoring, reuse, conditional publishing, localization proof, multiple output channels, component publishing, user friendliness, consistency, object oriented authoring, transferability, specialization and simple XML.

Since the release DITA 1.3 the OASIS DITA technical committees have been working on proposals for DITA 1.3. This new DITA version will bring improvements and resolve some of the bugs in DITA 1.2.

According to the latest information, DITA 1.3 will contain a Lightweight DITA version that only incorporates the basic DITA information types and elements. The version of DITA should be more accessible for first-time users and should also make the transfer to DITA based working easier. The DITA standard in its complete form contains many information types and elements. This multitude of information can be considered overwhelming for first time users of DITA: it is difficult to establish what information types and elements should be used in your documentation. By trimming the standard to a bare minimum in the form of a Lightweight version, the possibilities will be reduced, and the ease of use (for first timers) increased.

Several information structures that were introduced in earlier versions of the DITA standard will be improved, such as the keyref mechanism. The key ref mechanism allows users to implement indirect links to information instead of direct links. Indirect links will remain in place and active after moving your content or using it in a different way, while direct links will often fail in these instances. The use of indirect links increases the reuse potential.

Lastly, DITA 1.3 will be implemented using RelaxNG. DITA 1.2 and earlier versions only used DTD and XSD schemas to bring together the different information elements. DITA 1.3 will also allow RelaxNG as a schema. These schemas form the back bone of DITA documentation. They determine which vocabulary and domain modules (containing elements and attributes) can be used together and in which way. They determine the possible structure of your documentation. By introducing RelaxNG, specializing the DITA standard to fit the needs of your documentation will become a lot easier.

The release date of DITA 1.3 is unknown.