DITA from Legacy to the Future

Presented by Bernard Aschwanden


This course is developed for people who need to learn about Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) and want the basics of the software tools that work with it. Get comfortable with the concepts and rules of DITA. Explore the standard and how it is used to plan and create maps and topics. Acquire hands-on experience to guide your understanding of the tools that work with DITA from planning and prototyping, through to publishing and managing content.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify XML tagging and syntax in relation to DITA
  • Understand the DITA specification and the core set of elements it uses
  • Create Topic, Reference, Concept and Task elements for use as stand-alone files or as part of a map document
  • Build DITA map documents
  • Work with a variety of software tools to create DITA based content
  • Use Adobe FrameMaker, JustSystems XMetaL, oXygen XML, Altova XMLSpy and other tools build DITA files
  • Run basic transforms using the DITA toolkit or other tools that work with DITA
  • Identify key issues to consider when implementing DITA and converting legacy content

Session Descriptions

Session 1: What is Structure?

Learn how structuring can benefit your authoring environment. Identify the core benefits of a structured writing environment that is based on DITA by identifying the main purpose of DITA. Organize content into logical topics, combine them into a map, and publish from one source. Consistent content is generally better content. DITA provides the structure needed to improve content and reduce manual workflows.

Session2: Core Elements of DITA 

What is behind DITA, how does it work, and how can a DITA-based publishing system benefit you. Identify the core elements of DITA and learn which ones you are likely to encounter every day. Once common elements are understood you'll see that DITA provides guidance, not an arbitrary and strict workflow with no room for creativity. Tables, images, notes/warning, detailed tasks, and more are all supported by DITA.

Session 3: Manage Legacy Documentation

Move from content that is not in a DITA compliant format and begin to reorganize it into topic based material for conversion. Learn how to review existing material to ensure that the message you need to deliver is never lost, but the content is improved.

Session 4: A Practical Application of DITA

Create and manage DITA content outside of a content management system by learning best practices related to the creation of content.

Session 5: Migrate and Create Content

How do you rewrite content for compliance with DITA? Learn to use different software tools to both migrate content, and to create content. Identify relative strengths and weaknesses of tools and processes.

Session 6: Best Practices

When working with several tools you should ensure documents can be interchanged. DITA provides this. Imagine file neutrality with no dependency on your software tools. By working with DITA correctly, you don't need to use a single tool anymore and instead can use the right tool for the job. Regardless of the job, mix and match software because you use DITA, and therefore, you aren't trapped into using any specific product.

Session 7: Content Management

Import DITA files and supporting documents into a content management system. Review the way a CMS allows content to be managed, modified, tracked and delivered. Some CMS tools can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and others are shareware or generally available for under $10,000. What are the differences? For DITA, it doesn't matter that much. If a CMS can handle DITA, then one large part of the work is already out of the way. See how DITA content can be worked with when a CMS is implemented.

Presenter Biography

Bernard Aschwanden is a publishing technologies expert and author. A certified trainer, he teaches XML, DITA, content management, minimalism, and topic-based writing. He helps clients analyze and convert legacy docs, review workflow, and identify best practices, to reduce costs and discover savings.