What is structured content?

Structured content is a modular approach to managing content. Content can be stored in multiple formats including XML and using several XML data models including the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). With XML content is separated from formatting making it easier to deliver the content to multiple platforms. Metadata can be added to XML content to increase its usability.

What is DITA?

DITA is the most widely adopted XML standard and provides a structure for content with templates and defined types for creating and organizing content into self-contained reusable 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 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 and increase consistency by reusing the same piece of content across different publications.
  • 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 makes it easier to manage the delivery of content for multiple audiences, languages, and publish outputs.

What is a DITA CCMS?

A Component Content Management System (CCMS) is software that is designed to handle content at a more granular level and support DITA’s unique functionality. It 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 to consider before the roll out in a DITA adoption plan.

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