This DITA decision guide helps you assess whether you should adopt the DITA XML writing standard for technical documentation.
You probably don’t need DITA* if:
- You write narrative content.
- Your content has a “shelf life” of less than two years.
- The way the content looks to the user is the most important issue.
- You need to customise outputs for individual documents (such as PDFs).
- You want the presentation layer embedded (“baked”) with the content layer.
- You have fewer than four writers.
- You don’t want to work within strict rules regarding how topics are written (where content is marked up semantically).
- You need to use the tools used by developers or the marketing department.
- You have limited budgets for tools, training and migration.
- You want to improve the workflow for reviewing content.
- You don’t have the time to deal with the issues around changing working methods.
- The cost of migrating existing content will be expensive.
- You want a simple information architecture.
Although you might not need DITA, you still might need a better solution than your existing tools and processes.
You might need DITA* if:
- You need to write to (and enforce) a standard.
- Your content has a “shelf life” or more than two years.
- You need to localise content into many languages.
- You want to write semantically.
- You create many variations of the same document.
- You want intelligent content that can adapt to different users and contexts.
- You want automated publishing.
- You have more than four writers.
- You need to re-use content in different projects and different contexts, and make those topics accessible to other writing teams who might want to re-use them.
- You need a more efficient authoring, reviewing and publishing process.
- You are spending too much time on formatting content.
- You need to establish a controlled vocabulary and taxonomy.
- You want content validated for consistency.
You might need either DITA or another topic-based structured authoring environment. The solution is likely to be XML-based, using a Component Content Management System. For more information, contact Cherryleaf.
You probably do need DITA if:
You face the problems listed in “You might need DITA”, plus:
- Your content will need to last more than 30 years.
- You need to share content with other organisations, who will rebrand it and/or repurpose it.
- You want content to be stored in an open data standard, independent of any tool.
- You need transclusion (where an element can replace itself with the content of a like element elsewhere) across a range of media.
- You want to have a way of generalising back to a common standard.
- You have a large team of writers.
- You don’t want to be tied into a specific authoring tool, content management system or publishing/rendering engine.
Cherryleaf can help you solve the issues around how you create, manage and publish content
For more information, see Cherryleaf’s Content design and content strategy services.
Want to discuss your situation, and explore how Cherryleaf can help you? You can tell us about your project, issues and goals. We’re here to help.