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Friday, December 14, 2007

DITA: Does One Size Fit All?

The XML dialect of choice is the new DITA (Darwin Information Typing
Architecture), developed originally by IBM and now an OASIS standard.
Of twelve XML editors reviewed in June 2006, eight now do DITA, and
one new WYSIWYG XML authoring tool has entered the market that does
only DITA. The Arbortext Editor, formerly known as the Epic Editor,
has been doing DITA as long as anyone, years before it became an OASIS
standard. New owner PTC bought Arbortext because its major customers
used it and they wanted to integrate the production of technical
documentation into the product design process. PTC is "drinking its
own champagne" as they convert their own documentation to DITA. They
now also offer a ready-made DITA application that does 90 percent of
the work of producing a fully-designed service manual. XMetaL was the
first XML editor back in 1996 and it jumped on the OASIS DITA standard,
integrating the DITA Open Toolkit end-to-end publishing solution
bandwagon early. They quickly earned DITA authors mind share and were
acquired by Japanese XML publishing powerhouse Justsystems. Adobe
added a DITA application pack accessory to FrameMaker 7.2 and have now
integrated DITA completely in release 8. The latest XML editor in my
2006 study to add DITA support is SyncRO Soft, a tool popular in
academic institutions because it is Java based and runs on all
platforms: Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. Syntext Serna is another
multi-platform XML editor that, like Arbortext, has been doing DITA
its own way for some years. Even less expensive for freelance writers
getting started with DITA is the XMLmind XML Editor. XXE is downloadable
at no cost for personal use.

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