Looking for a content management system that enables to you author and publish DITA-based technical documentation? Take a gander over this way. Canadian vendor, IXIASOFT, have just unwrapped the latest release of their XML-based solution -- DITA CMS Framework 2.1.
Compatibility with DITA 1.1 is one of several interesting improvements bundled-up in this latest push.
IXIASOFT has been around since 1998 offering their flagship product TEXTXML Server – a native XML database and search engine. The DITA CMS Framework is based on TEXTXML Server. It is one of a very few content management products based on the DITA standard.
What is DITA
Not sure what DITA is? Well here’s an overview: Dita Overview DITA, Darwin Information Typing Architecture, is an XML based specification for authoring, managing and publishing technical information. Originally developed by IBM, it became an OASIS standard in June 2005. Version 1.1 of DITA was released in August 2007.
DITA is made up of maps and topics. Maps are like tables of content that link to topics in the sequence they are to be displayed in documents.
Topics are the separation of content so that they can be reused in different deliverables. There is a generic topic type that contains a title element, prolog element for metadata and a body element. It specifies basic three topic types:
* Task: Tasks describe how to do something via a series of steps
* Concept: Concepts are generally definitions, rules and guidelines
* Reference: References are used for describing command syntax, programming instructions and other reference material
Both topics and maps are XML files that can be edited with any DITA-compliant XML editor. The DITA specification also includes rules for publishing DITA content in print, HTML, online Help, and other formats. Dita Bookmaps Basic DITA maps help define the structure of how topics are to be viewed, but they don’t have ability to specify how these topics are organized into chapters or preface content. They also can’t indicate covers or boilerplate content. The bookmap specification helps you create these things.
The DITA bookmap is a specialization of the DITA map that enables you to organize your DITA topics in a collection that can then be printed as a book. This specification allows you to create online technical document deliverables and printed based deliverables like PDF documents.
You can create the following structures with a bookmap:
* Booktitle: This includes subtitle structures
* Bookmeta: A specialization of the topicmeta element in a DITA map, it contains information about the book such as owners, authors, publishing data, etc…
* Frontmatter : This is introductory material for a book such as a preface, dedication or instructions. Booklists can also be included (specialized lists of topics)
* Unlimited Chapters or Parts * Unlimited Appendices * Backmatter: Information provided at the end of a book such as indices, dedications and amendments
* Unlimited retables
DITA CMS Framework 2.1 Features
Two new important features of the DITA CMS Framework 2.1 include:
# Project Management: Project Managers are able to view and manage multi-deliverable projects, selecting staff for review and approval of a number of different types of documents, setting review dates for maps and identifying what languages maps needed to be translated to. Like any project management tool, PMs will also be able to see how projects are doing in terms of meeting due dates and milestone dates.
# DITA bookmap support in the DITA Map editor: The DITA CMS Framework already contained a DITA map editor which allowed them to do map comparisons, drag and drop topics between maps and perform nesting and cloning of maps. With the solution now being complaint with DITA 1.1, the DITA map editor now also supports DITA bookmaps – the specification enables editors to produce DITA topics and maps as a book. This provides technical editors with a user friendly interface to create bookmaps.
DITA and ECM
For ECM Vendors to take advantage of DITA, they need to move to more component based content management. This means they store documents not as complete documents but as small re-useable components that are used to assemble documents . JustSystems Dynamic Docs, DITA Tactics IXIASOFT is not the only vendor with a strong interest in DITA. JustSystems, co-author of the DITA Maturity Model , also delivers products that adhere to the DITA standard. They recently discussed their latest strategies for leveraging DITA and using the Dynamic Docs product at the Content Management Strategies/DITA North America 2008 Conference. EMC DocumentumEMC is probably one of the closest ECM vendors to be able to support DITA. In 2007 they acquired X-Hive, an XML repository which currently serves as the backbone for a number of component content management CMS systems. Oracle Oracle is another vendor with DITA capabilities since purchasing Stellent. Stellent ECM has implemented the IXIASOFT XML repository technology in its offerings.
According to Joe Gelb, the founder and president of Suite Solutions, and contributor to the Content Wrangler, “Although XML is being adopted more and more for documentation, CCM remains a niche market that has not seemed to have gained the critical mass to attract the attention of the large ECM vendors to provide native robust CCM solutions.”
Gelb says it’s more likely that ECM vendors will rely on 3rd party partners to provide add-on products for Component Content Management. Something Microsoft is already doing with SharePoint.
So if it's a DITA CMS you want, it looks like IXIASOFT may be your first option. Take a closer look at their product offering.