Setting up stylesheets and a publishing system

The DITA Open Toolkit is a modest publishing system. The Toolkit transforms DITA content (maps and topics) into publishing deliverable formats for web (XHTML), print (PDF), and Help (CHM and Eclipse). Your output files are simply generated in your file system. It is up to you to move them to your website, or into your print publishing process.

When you find you need more styling in your output deliverables than provided by the DITA Open Toolkit stylesheets (XSLTs), you can consider a number of stylesheet tools, some tightly integrated with advanced publishing systems. The most advanced are integrated with a content management system (CMS).

DITA XML structured publishing solutions, like content management systems in general, run the gamut in cost from free (the DITA OT) to millions of dollars for some of the largest implementations in big corporations like Adobe, Autodesk, BMC, EMC, IBM, Nokia,, and Sybase.

The toolsets alone can run to hundreds of thousands of dollars, when a fully automated publishing solution is integrated with an XML CMS, like those from Astoria, Vasont, and XyEnterprise, or integrated editing, styling, publishing, and CM systems from PTC Arbortext.

A publishing engine is a special application that takes your DITA topics and ditamaps and serves them out automatically to print and the Web. They can cost from free (the Open Toolkit) to more than one hundred thousand dollars. Fully automated publishing solutions integrated with an XML CMS—such as those from Astoria, Vasont, and XyEnterprise—or integrated editing, styling, publishing, and content management systems from PTC Arbortext, can cost millions of dollars when implemented for thousands of users and multiple publishing servers.

Adobe FrameMaker Server ( is a license to use their formatting and PDF production engine in an automated publishing environment. Documentation for the Adobe Creative Suite is an example of the high-quality print output.

Arbortext Publishing Engine ( Known for years as E3 (Epic E-Content Engine) when the Arbortext editor was called Epic, the Arbortext Publishing Engine is a market leader for structured publishing (SGML, then XML, now DITA). Arbortext Styler is their stylesheet designer.

DITA Open Toolkit ( is a free open-source reference implementation of DITA processing to XHTML, PDF, and a variety of help formats. The OT is integrated into many editors (FrameMaker, <oXygen/>, XMetaL) and content management systems (Astoria, Bluestream, IXIASOFT, XyEnterprise). You can download the OT and install it for free on your computer, to get started with topic-based writing and publishing. Or you can use an online (SaaS) version by joining DITA Users (

Elkera XML Print ( simplifies style sheet development and maintenance compared to traditional approaches using predeveloped style rules for DITA. Nontechnical users can adjust page layouts and styles for their DITA style rules by editing a template document in Word.

XyEnterprise XML Professional Publisher (, or XPP, has out-of-the-box support for DITA. XPP automated publishing technology was the first to add fully interactive WYSIWYG editing. 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