How DITA 101 came to be

We have been asked why we created DITA 101 and how we created the book (e.g., technologically speaking).

There were three reasons we wrote DITA 101.


The primary reason we decided to write DITA 101 was because there was no straightforward introduction to DITA available. No matter how simple an article or book started out they always ended up talking about DITA in the context of XML code.

In the early days, DITA was very much a code-oriented way of dealing with content, but not now. If we look back on the early days of creating Help it was the developers who were responsible for it. Why? Because it was complex and hard to create, most content creation was done with code.

The same was true of DITA in the early days.

We have the vendors to thank for making DITA easier to use. They have all upgraded their tools to provide WYSIWYG access to DITA. DITA itself has not significantly changed, but DITA is now hidden “under the covers.” You don't have to see the tags, you can work the way you always have in your favorite authoring tool. We've shown the tags in our examples to make it easier for readers to see the DITA structure, but you can author without tags displayed.

Now that there is an easier way to create DITA, there needed to be an easier way to understand DITA - DITA 101.


Second, like we always say, "it's not just about the tools." It is now easier to create materials using DITA than it once was, but just understanding the mechanics of DITA doesn't mean you can create good quality materials using DITA. Using DITA effectively means that in addition to understanding the standard, you must understand the context in which it will be used. You must understand content design, reuse strategies and the basics of metadata.

DITA 101 was written to provide the context and enable the reader to effectively create (or manage the creation of) materials using DITA.


Finally, DITA is a change in the way we do things. With change comes the need for change management.

DITA 101 was also designed for managers, to provide them with an understanding of the benefits of DITA, the ROI in reuse, how to plan for DITA and how roles within the organization need to change to support creating content with the DITA standard.