Deciding When to Do DITA

Is DITA best for my business?

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) standard has gotten a lot of press in the last few years, making lots of people wonder if DITA is something they should pursue. There are many organizations who have successfully implemented DITA, and many tools support this new standard. But is it right for you? Here are some things to consider when deciding if you should use DITA:

Research your industry’s requirements.

DITA is a general standard that is administered by the OASIS DITA technical committee and may not be applicable to every industry. That’s why it’s important to research the requirements that pertain to your industry. Must your organization conform to an industry standard in order to share information? If you are in an industry that uses a specific standard like S1000D or Milspec, then DITA is not an option for you.

Find the fit.

The type of content is an important factor when using DITA in a CCMS. Does your content fit a topic-based writing model? If so, that’s a start. Does your content fit the DITA model of tasks, references, and concepts? If you are producing instructional content – e.g., user guides – then DITA might be a good choice. However, using DITA with your marketing material might be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Do your homework; research DITA’s spec and make sure DITA is a fit for your content.

Check the wallet.

Of course, cost is also important when using DITA in a CCMS. What is your budget? Some organizations will select DITA because it is a canned, ready-to-use DTD and it has a free publishing engine (the DITA Open Toolkit), so it minimizes the investment to get started. However, DITA will only be cost-effective if your content fits the model (see tip 2: Find the fit) and if the output from the DITA Open Toolkit is acceptable for your content. What seems like an affordable short-term solution may not be such a wise investment over the long term. You could end up wasting money on a product that doesn’t meet your expectations.

Beware of the buzz.

While DITA has certainly created a stir, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily right for your organization. If you already have structured content and a DTD that works well for you, should you switch to DITA? The answer is no – stick with what you have unless you can find a really compelling reason to make the switch. Otherwise, you may end up spending a lot of time and money for no added benefit.

Should I move my business to DITA? Vasont Systems can help you decide.

Still not sure if using DITA in a CCMS makes sense for your organization? Vasont Systems can help you make an informed decision. With nearly a quarter century of content management experience, you can trust us to provide the expert guidance you need. We serve the content management needs of companies in industries such as healthcare, technology, financial, publishing, manufacturing, and government and defense.

Call us at 717-764-9720 or visit our website for help in getting started with your content management strategy.