MP: DITA course at UCSC

I'll be teaching a course remotely through UCSC starting in February - details are here:;jsessionid=41346460A7414C69EC1A7019F56C62A0?method=load&courseId=3663892

To summarize:

  • course runs Feb 4th - March 21st 2008
  • cost is $553 US if you enroll before January 22nd
  • the course will consist of weekly topics and assignments, with regular meetings for Q&A in real-time via IM if possible, through forums and email if not
  • I've designed the course, drawing extensively from workshops and presentations I've given over the last few years, with a focus on applying DITA to task-oriented technical documentation.
  • the course is for authors and information architects using DITA - although it covers some technical ground, it is not aimed at developers and requires no programming background (although familiarity with XML won't hurt, it's not required)

I've also had requests for an in-depth listing of topics - without further ado, here it is:

  1. Background to DITA: XML, topic-based authoring, introduction to DITA
    1. XML: XML DTDs, Schemas, XSLT, XSL:FO
    2. Topic-based authoring, task-oriented information, information typing
    3. DITA principles
    4. Assignment: creating a DITA topic on what you want from the class
  2. Authoring guidelines for DITA: concepts, tasks, reference, glossary
    1. Guidelines for titles
    2. Guidelines for short descriptions
    3. Guidelines for content
    4. Guidelines for related links
    5. Guidelines for metadata
    6. Group assignment: create a set of related topics
  3. Information architecture with DITA: task flows and tables of contents
    1. Introduction to DITA maps
    2. User goals, roles, and tasks
    3. Task hierarchies, sequences, and choices
    4. Group assignment: create a componentized set of maps based on a task hierarchy
  4. Information architecture with DITA: relationship tables and linking
    1. Relationship tables for link management
    2. The linking attribute
    3. The toc attribute
    4. Assignment: create relationship tables for your subset of content
  5. DITA and reuse: metadata, filtering, flagging, and content referencing
    1. The profiling attributes: props, product, platform, audience, otherprops
    2. The reuse attributes: conref, id
    3. Reuse strategies
    4. Group assignment: agree on metadata values and reuse strategies; make the product name a variable; conditionalize a topic based on audience
  6. Specialization: creating new topic or map types
    1. Introduction to specialization
    2. Structures and domains
    3. Assignment: building a specialized map
  7. Future of DITA: exploring future applications of DITA
    1. Assignment: review the ways DITA can be applied to your organization’s content
Comments are welcome. 

Will this course be offered again soon? Do you have to be signed up for the certificate program to take the course?



Hi Michael

Thank you for making available a detailed course syllabus.

My only question is whether you may be planning to offer a sequel online course that expnads towards the XML and transformations side (or if you know of any -- I'm remote so unable to participate in the frequent workshops..). Please correct me if I'm not accurate, about the relevance of that to enabling tapping DITA's information modeling power in a full publishing cycle with open source or the more basic DITA-aware XML editors.

I don't mean involving the processing itself, but the layer above. Would this be more within the context of OT architecture and deployments?

Best regards.


I think there is room for a course like you describe, focusing on DITA as information technology - setting up projects and automated builds, developing special-purpose transforms etc. I know there have been workshops in this category, which you mention - I know I've given specialization- and customization workshops in the past (one of them's recorded and available on this site). But that's not the end-to-end big picture I think you're looking for.

 If the currently planned DITA course goes well, I'll see if UCSC is interested in hosting a related course aimed more at developers.

Michael Priestley

Hi Michael,


I am a technical writing student at Berkeley extension. Any plans to offer DITA training/Intro to DITA in 2009? I am very interested in taking such a course.


Thank you very much,

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