Creating and managing content

Creating and managing DITA content involves writing and editing with a "DITA-aware" authoring tool, and (in most organizations) storing and managing content using a content management system. Some authoring tools and CMSs contain the embedded DITA Open Toolkit (or equivalent functionality) to allow processing within the tool.

A "DITA-aware" authoring tool is the software used to create DITA source content.

To be DITA-aware, an authoring tool must:
  • Check for "well-formedness," that is, that the opening and closing tags match

    An example would be <note>Text</note>.

  • Check for validity, that is, that all DTD rules are obeyed

    An example would be a check to see whether the tags appearing in the document are nested according to rules in the document's DTDs.

DITA-aware authoring tools should insist on well-formedness and validity. That is, the tool should prevent you from saving or warn you before saving a file with errors.
Popular DITA-aware authoring tools include:
  • Altova XMLSpy
  • Arbortext Editor
  • JustSystems XMetaL
  • Adobe FrameMaker 7.2 with the Application Pack for DITA
  • SyncRO Soft <oXygen/>
  • Pixware XMLmind
  • Stylus Studio
  • Syntext Serna
  • XMLBuddy (built into Eclipse)
  • Xopus (front end for DocZone content management system)
If your DITA project involves large numbers of topics, many authors, or geographically distributed authoring and production teams, you may benefit from the features provided by a CMS, which can include:
  • Workflow support
  • Validation of topic links
  • Support for the Semantic Web
  • Localization (translation) support

To be truly effective, a CMS being used to store files for a DITA project must be aware of the tree-structued ("web") nature of the project, the content contained in the source files, and the relationships among the files and their content. The CMS must also be able to report on this kind of information: both meta information about the files, and syntactic and semantic information about the content. Ask your CMS vendor about the product's content analytical capabilities before deciding to buy.

It can also be useful for the CMS to include DITA Open Toolkit processing, and debugging and reporting aids that operate along with file processing. CMSs should also provide basic library (source control) functionality.

Popular CMSs include:
  • Hosted (web-based)
    • Astoria
    • DocZone
    • XDocs
  • Open-source
    • Alfresco
    • NetBeans
  • Proprietary, server-based
    • Documentum
    • Ixiasoft
    • Vasont
  • Hosted DITA training site: ditausers.org (includes the DITA Storm editor)