Success Story: Mix and Match – Combining custom XML with DITA

Presentation Abstract

We’re writing functional specifications for our server software as a combination of standard DITA XML and highly customized XML – using oXygen XML editor as authoring environment and DITA-OT for publishing.

The custom XML makes use of standard DITA elements and concepts for pure descriptive content like explanations and comments.

Instead of converting the custom XML to DITA for publication the files are directly referenced as specialized topics by the DITA map.

This works basically by mapping the custom elements to standard DITA elements by adding class attributes as defaults by the associated schema.

However, the pure mapping of custom elements to standard DITA elements is not sufficient for this concept to be applicable for real use-cases.

Thus, some missing features have been implemented as plugins for DITA-OT and oXygen XML editor and are available as open-source. These are
– Adding static content like titles
– Generating content dynamically
– Referencing implicitly defined identifiers

The result is a single authoring environment for editing both the standard and the custom XML content with a WYSIWYG user interface.

It provides very detailed validation and author guidance not only in the DITA domain but also in the domain of our very company specific software architecture.

And it allows the automated extraction of data for optimizing the software development process or even control the application at runtime.

What can attendees expect to learn?

The presentation will:
– provide a novel way to embed custom XML into DITA documents.
– demonstrate a way to extract detailed data from DITA documents for usage beside publication.
– introduce the open-source plugins for DITA-OT and oXygen XML editor of the DITA-SEMIA project.

Meet the Presenter

Patrik has a PhD in mechatronics and 25+ years of experience in software engineering. Since 2009 he has been working as a system architect with GDV DL – a service provider of the German insurance industry.

As a system architect, Patrik mainly writes functional software specifications and is responsible for the handbook of procedures that is authored in highly specialized DITA.

Over the past years he has been continuously improving the authoring environment for functional specifications using DITA and modern XML technologies with great success.

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