What is structured content?

Structured content is content that has a pre-defined form. For example, Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) provides definitions for structuring content. Structured content is also associated with metadata.

What is DITA?

DITA provides an XML structure for content with templates and defined types for creating and organizing content into chunks. The chunks of content can be combined and recombined to produce different sets of information. DITA chunks of content have metadata, and you can also tag the chunks with your own metadata.

DITA_structure_diagram

Why DITA?

Here are some good reasons for using DITA to structure your content:

  • DITA information types encourage good writing practices and information structure, which make information easier to understand.
  • DITA has many ways to support information reuse, so you can avoid duplication by reusing the same piece of content across different publications.
  • Reuse and other DITA features, such keyrefs, support consistency of terminology throughout your documentation.
  • DITA makes it easy to update and edit content.
  • DITA is open technology that is widely supported around the world. If you created your own structure, it would be costly and may not work well with other technologies.
  • DITA can be specialized to fit your information model.
  • DITA makes single-source publishing easy; DITA separates content from content delivery, so the same set of information can be quickly and efficiently transformed into different outputs, such as HTML, PDF, WebHelp, EPUB, and more.
  • DITA can reduce translation costs and turnaround because it allows you to send out only modified content for translation.

What about structured content and content management?

Content management is about seeing content through a lifecycle of planning, creating, reviewing, editing, translating, publishing, and into the next lifecycle when your products are updated.

Structuring content with DITA can make it easier to manage the delivery of content for many different audiences, languages, and publish outputs.

What is a DITA CMS?

A DITA Content Management System (CMS) is software that is designed to handle DITA content and that provides features that make it easy for your team to find, track, create,  edit, and publish DITA and other content.

How do organizations switch to DITA?

DITA adoption requires some planning. If your organization is adopting DITA, for example, you will need to create a content strategy, reuse plan, information model, and metrics. You will likely need DITA conversion to transform some existing content into DITA content. There are also training and pilot phases before the roll out in a DITA adoption plan.

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