By Julio Vazquez
posted on April 30, 2010 08:49
It's interesting where things are now. DITA has gotten wider acceptance and there are many in the field who see its value. There are others in the field who have doubts about the benefits, especially because of what they consider to be deficiencies of the Open Toolkit to produce good-looking output for all possible formats. The question, in my mind, is what's good enough? The time you spend getting things to look right may add cost that has little value to the person using the content.
Let's put that aside and talk more about the current situation. More folks are seriously investigating DITA. Some corporations have taken the plunge and committed to DITA with various levels of success. Those who embrace the entire philosophy fully find that they achieve gains in productivity, clarity, and consistency that were difficult to achieve a few years ago. Was it painless? No. What they realize is that the pain is quickly forgotten and the return is significant.
Technical communicators are looking at DITA and its specialization mechanism to model information for which the language originally wasn't designed. I applaud these efforts and consider the majority of the experienced folks at either level 3 or 4 in the DITA Maturity Model as described by Michael Priestley and Amber Swope, which is astounding. Keep in mind that IBM didn't even start looking at specialization of content models on a broad scale until they had a few years under their collective belt.
On the topic of specialization, one of interest is being created by Eliot Kimber. Eliot is working on a set of specializations he's called DITA for Publishers. I haven't had a chance to look into it, but I have every confidence that it'll be a great way to bridge the semantic-presentation gap. (Eliot is one of the sharpest tools in the DITA bag.) Who knows? I may use it when I write my next novel.
About the Author
Julio Vazquez is a Senior Information Architect at SDI with over 30 years of experience in technical communications and information technology. As one of the members of the initial DITA task force, he takes his share of blame for the current architecture and language structure. Julio holds a bachelor’s degree in computers and information systems from Empire State College of the State University of New York and has spoken at technical communication and STC conferences about DITA and information architecture and is the author of Practical DITA.