DITA specialization

Specialization is the process by which new designs are created based off existing designs, allowing new kinds of content to be processed using existing processing rules.

Specialization provides a way to reconcile the needs for centralized management of major architecture and design with the needs for localized management of group-specific and content-specific guidelines and behaviors. Specialization allows multiple definitions of content and output to co-exist, related through a hierarchy of types and transforms. This hierarchy lets general transforms know how to deal with new, specific content, and it lets specialized transforms reuse logic from the general transforms. As a result, any content can be processed by any transform, as long as both content and transform are specialization-compliant, and part of the same hierarchy. Specializers get the benefit of specific solutions, but also get the benefit of common standards and shared resources.

Content Processing Result
Unspecialized Unspecialized Base processing, expected output
Unspecialized Specialized Base processing, specialized overrides are ignored, expected output
Specialized Unspecialized Base processing, specialized content treated as general, output may fall short of expectations
Specialized Specialized Specialized processing, expected output
Specialized Differently specialized Some specialized processing, specialized content treated as nearest common denominator, output may fall short of expectations

The following topics provide an overview of specialization, some recommendations for use, and detailed rules for its mechanisms.