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Think DITA is just for procedural technical documents? Think again.

A new OASIS DITA sub-committee has been announced whose purpose it is to explore using the popular technical documentation standard known as the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) outside technical documentation projects. The committee, headed by co-chairs Ann Rockley, President of The Rockley Group and Michael Boses, Chief Technology Officer at In.vision Research, believe its time to consider expanding DITA to address the requirements of enterprise content.

Why DITA for Enterprise Business Documents?

More and more enterprises (pharmaceutical, medical device, health and hospital, high tech, finance, government) are moving to structured XML content for many different purposes (marketing, sales, product usage and support) and applications (web, multichannel publishing, globalized content). A growing number of these organizations have come to believe that DITA not only provides the best basis from which to start addressing their requirements for narrative business documents, but one which will help them to achieve their goals faster and in a standardized manner. Because DITA was

initially designed with specialization in its architecture, it has been more than a one-trick pony, and the Enterprise Business Documents

Subcommittee is another example of applications not originally envisioned finding the architecture suitable for building community around.

“Strategists across industry and government are recognizing the value of structured XML authoring” says Boses. “These organizations want to see and leverage the intellectual property that is currently locked within narrative documents, and they want the data in these documents to be integrated with end-to-end process automation that has become a key to competitive advantage.”

“In the past decade authoring tools have made XML editing accessible to every user—even business users with no technical knowledge or experience,” says Boses. “The ‘last frontier’ in the effort to put structured XML authoring on every desktop concerns the enterprise standards that will be used to create and control all types of content. We are responding to a ground-swell of interest in the DITA standard, and will leverage the architecture and simplicity of DITA to provide organizations with OASIS approved DITA extensions designed for narrative business documents.”

“Companies want to adopt structured content management practices to assist them in creating HR, marketing, sales, product usage and support materials,”” says Rockley, whose firm has seen tremendous interest in the DITA standard for all types of business docs. “”They want to be able to share and personalize content for audience, product, and region. When you are talking components and reuse, DITA always comes up as a possibility, but because it was designed for technical documentation, it must be specialized. We’d like to help extend the DITA standard to accommodate business documents so it can be used “out-of-the-box” by all types of content creators across the enterprise.””

“Through this new Subcommittee,” says Don Day, OASIS DITA TC Chair. “We hope to see other organizations benefit from the use of the DITA architecture and its growing support in tools and training resources for new adopters.”

Participating In The DITA for Enterprise Business Documents Sub-Committee

The sub-committee is now recruiting participants to help them meet the following goals:

  1. Meta-model for Business DITA —To suggest a document model that classifies the types of content elements and relationships found in narrative business documents with sufficient detail to allow them to be discussed in a non-ambiguous way.
  2. Harmonize the meta-model with DITA Standard—To recommend an approach to harmonizing the narrative business document meta-model with the DITA standard.
  3. Business DITA Map—To recommend a standard approach for fully expanding DITA Map references into a process instance that may be validated against an approved DITA DTD or schema.
  4. Maturity Model for Business DITA—Long-term, to recommend a maturity model for organizations that intend to adopt DITA for narrative business documents.

If you are interested in participating in this committee, contact Ann Rockley or Michael Boses.

What They’re Looking For

The committee is looking for:

  • Practitioners or consultants who have looked at DITA for business documents, or have implemented DITA for this purpose or developed custom XML models for narrative business documents
  • Academia who have or is interested in working on a formal model for structured narrative business documents
  • Software and services vendors interested in applying DITA outside of technical documentation