Getting started

Getting started with DITA requires a multi-step process:

  • Understand the topic-based architecture underlying the DITA model.

    Topic-based authoring is the basis of DITA. In order to understand the best approach to DITA, first understand how to work with topics and structured writing.

  • Create an information model.
    This is the best way to provide your employees with a guideline to follow throughout your DITA adoption and implementation process. An information model includes information such as:

    • Information Type descriptions
    • Content Unit descriptions
    • Metadata and folder/repository structure definitions
    • Naming conventions
    • Document definitions

  • Read the DITA Architecture and Language Specification to understand how the model works.

    For help creating your information model, you may find the DITA Architecture Specification and the DITA Language Specification helpful. The Language Specification provides you with element and attribute definitions you can use as part of the DITA standard. The DITA Architecture Specification provides you with information about the features DITA provides such as content reuse, conditional processing, and specialization.

  • Inventory your own content and transform it into topics.

    In order to fully develop your processes and information model, consider developing a pilot project. Your pilot project should be small enough to not discourage employees and other stakeholders from continuing the project, but also large enough to fully test your content with the DITA model and test your workflow processes. It's best to first inventory your content to identify consistencies in structure and information you can minimalize and reuse. Then, start marking up your content using DITA markup to identify special needs to fit your content.

  • Download the DITA Open Toolkit and processing information from Source Forge

    For processing, you may want to use the DITA Open Toolkit to create PDF, XHTML pages, HTML Help (.chm), Java Help, and Eclipse Help. The DITA Open Toolkit provides processing and rendering techniques to create your output.

See also:

- DITA Introduction and Authoring Workshop presentation by Michael Priestley
- Lone DITA tutorial
- 5-minute DITA tutorial - Bob Doyle's Flash introduction to DITA topics, task, concept, and reference specializations, and DITA maps
- Eliot Kimber's Quick Start DITA Tutorial - 90-minute video
- DITA Users Basic Tutorials
- DITA Users Getting Started - with an online DITA Open Toolkit and DITA Storm browser editor

- DITA Infocenter - DITA Language and Architecture Specifications and OT User Guide in 3-pane Help format with search, index, and TOC.

- Introduction to DITA, book and complete tutorial, Jennifer Linton and Kylene Bruski 


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