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Building a Bridge: DITA, DocBook, and ODF

by Eric Armstrong, Blog

Some folks here are taking a very strong look at DITA. I'm certainly one of them. But we also have a huge legacy of documents in Solbook format (Sun's subset of DocBook). There are tools for editing such documents, and tools for processing them. and there are many people who are comfortable with those tools. So DITA isn't going to replace the world, just yet.

But DITA makes extensive reuse possible. It's a format with a serious future, because "reuse" is a very big deal. It lets you single-source your information content so have one place to make an edit. That sort of thing becomes important when you have multiple revisions of a product, and/or multiple variations. It becomes important when different tools and different products use the same information in different ways. It can drastically improve quality, ensure uniformity of presentation. Finally, structured formats like DITA and DocBook create the kind of consistently-tagged information that allows for useful automation.

So how do we bridge those two worlds? Fortunately, there are two sets of tools that make it possible:

  • DITA/DocBook/ODF Transforms
  • CMS Plugins

Of course, this sort of thing is a lot easier to say than to do. But saying it is a heck of a lot of fun--and sometimes it's half the battle. So here goes...

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