The DITA Iceberg

Since it became a public standard in 2005, DITA has grown increasingly complicated. DITA 1.3 takes the complexity to a new level. The choice now seems to be between leaving authors to flounder in a huge list of DITA elements, attributes and features (or to misuse, inconsistently use, or disregard most of them), or to author using a greatly simplified tagset like Lightweight DITA. In either case, the result can be content that is–as initially authored–not robust (or correct) enough for use in a sophisticated content/output model. It’s becoming increasingly necessary for an Information Architect–someone with the sole or primary responsibility to fully understand the DITA model–to take the content after it has been authored and complete it to fit their group’s output requirements.

Is it fair now to say you can’t really “”do”” DITA without an Information Architect? If that’s the case, does it put a damper on DITA adoption? Or does it mean that adoption will still be steady, but that most groups will merely scratch the surface? The vast majority of the DITA iceberg will float below the surface of most group’s capabilities? Will future DITA development be for the benefit of an increasingly small minority of users with the necessary in-house technical expertise to take advantage of it? Or…could DITA and its programming-like approach to content creation be a driver for increased technical expertise among writers?

In this presentation, Leigh will present a brief overview of how the DITA iceberg has grown since 2005 and engage the audience in a conversation about whether DITA has in fact passed a tipping point of complexity and what that means for authors, Information Architects, and toolsmiths.

What can attendees expect to learn?
As many of the members of the OASIS DITA TC will be in attendance (hopefully!), this presentation will give the audience a chance to dialog with them and each other about how best to balance the need for new features to accommodate increasingly complex output and delivery requirements with the need to keep DITA equally usable for lone writers, small shops, distributed groups, and large enterprise teams—each with no to many technical/IA resources.

Meet the Presenter

leigh_white_682x660Leigh White is a DITA author, information architect, and DITA Open Toolkit fanatic. She advocates that effective technical communicators need to be more than writers; they need to be part programmer, part designer and part project manager.

A conference veteran, Leigh has spoken on XML, DITA, and content management systems at a number of conferences, including the STC Summit, DITA North America, Intelligent Content, Lavacon, and Writers UA.

Leigh is a DITA Specialist at IXIASOFT, where she helps documentation groups evaluate their workflows and transition into the IXIASOFT DITA CMS. She is the author of “”DITA For Print: A DITA Open Toolkit Workbook”” and a contributor to “”The Language of Content Strategy”” and “”The Language of Technical Communication.”” Leigh is also a member of the OASIS DITA Adoption TC.

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