Introduction to specialization

Specialization is the process by which new designs are created based on existing designs, allowing new kinds of content to be processed using existing processing rules.

It is the means by which the standard DITA language may be extended for new semantic or structural roles.

Specialization allows you to define new kinds of information (new structural types or new domains of information), while reusing as much of existing design and code as possible, and minimizing or eliminating the costs of interchange, migration, and maintenance.

Specialization may be used to introduce new map types, information types, or domains. An example of a map specialized for a specific application is the Bookmap specialization provided as part of the OASIS DITA 1.1 Standard. An example of a topic specialized for a particular role is message specialization (provided as a msgref plugin of the DITA Open Toolkit). An example of a community-prescribed domain specialization is the hazard domain in DITA 1.2 by the Machine Industry Specialization Subcommittee of the OASIS DITA TC.

Community specialization plugins. 

Besides those specializations created as OASIS Standards under the auspices of the OASIS DITA Technical committee, specializations have also been created as community plugins for the DITA Open Toolkit and as file uploads at sites such as the Yahoo! dita-users forum.  In addition, many companies have developed specializations that are used internally, and sometimes shared by arrangement with business partners. Finally, some businesses have developed specializations that represent internal business process or workflows; these are usually trade secret assets of those businesses.  However, all follow the same methodologies, which means that all such DITA content is interchangeable and (with the appropriate DTDs and processing overrides) interoperable in processing with other content producers or publishers.

Other examples of popular specializations include:

  • Taxonomies and subject classification (a downloadable plugin of the DITA Open Toolkit)
  • Learning and Training Specialization (a comprehensive suite of specializations developed by a community subcommittee of the OASIS DITA TC)

Specializations may support particular subject matter areas, such as:

  • Hand-held device manuals and/or content

A comprehensive description of a specialization would include, directly or via links:

  • Purpose and description
  • Schema and/or DTD specification files
  • Sample source code
  • Sample output

An example of a specialization with all these components that works as a plugin of  the DITA Open Toolkit is the music specialization.


See also:
 Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
OASIS sites: OASIS | Cover Pages | | AMQP | CGM Open | eGov | Emergency | IDtrust | LegalXML | Open CSA | OSLC | WS-I