DITA From Legacy to the Future


Bernard Aschwanden
President, Publishing Smarter


Online Courses

DITA From Legacy to the Future

1 November-13 December 2016 (Tuesdays) | 2:30 – 3:30 PM EST (GMT -5)

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, Syntext Serna and other tools to 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 Breakdown

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Any DITA project must ensure the right content is created by the right people and then distributed in formats best suited to the audience. To that end, files that are created by you–as a group–are compiled into a working finished product. Samples will be distributed to attendees, and everyone has a chance to contribute content to the finished files. More than “show and tell,” the course wraps up with an interactive project that emulates ideas from the real-world of DITA management, authoring, and publishing.


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.

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