DITA Standard

Explanations from Don’s perspective on the design and history of the DITA standard.


The searchtitle element

You know the feeling: after a busy afternoon of researching and bookmarking the documentation for a product you just bought, you go back to look for the particular link you logged about installing on weekends. But all the bookmark titles just say “Installing FooFram” with no other clue about that weekend issue. Whoever wrote those chapters needed searchtitle for the web version of that document! (more…)


The navtitle element

A navtitle, in DITAspeak, is a shorter version of a longer, actual topic title that can be displayed in navigation menus or other contexts where a more succinct version is preferred. In fact, any application that publishes adaptive content can make use of this version of the title in place of the main title for summary views of the topic such as in a sidebar blurb or for progressive disclosure in a responsive theme. (more…)


The  titlealts element

When you need more than just the regular title as the text for links to your topic, the name to call is titlealts!

Titlealts can push a  shorter version of the title into your navigation when needed, and provide a more specific version of the title for search results. It’s like having your own personal butler, keeping your linked appearance spiffy in all situations. Read more about The Children of Titlealts in the upcoming sequels, navtitle and searchtitle. (more…)


The title element

The <title> element in DITA is pervasive; you find it not only as the title for a map or topic but also as the title for figures, tables, linklists, and sections/examples (and less obviously in the data element, where it is available for various specializations of that metadata element). Topic titles are the only case in DITA in which the representation of the title might change as topics are nested; all other uses represent labels, and thus generally have consistent representation as bolded phrases rather than as heading elements. (more…)


The map element

You might think of a DITA map as the Swiss Army Knife of lists. When you do a search on the web, you get back a list of topics that match that query. When you sort business cards from a conference by company or job title, you are creating a hierarchical list of people by that category. Similarly, a DITA map is basically a list of resources that fits a particular reading sequence and hierarchy, possibly one of many depending on how the information was organized. (more…)


The dita element

Which element is not the most important element in DITA? Paradoxically, that would be the <dita> element. This element defines a container that can hold one or more DITA topics, but it has no formal meaning as a part of structured representation. You might use it to group several topics in a single file unit for ease of loading and working on in parallel, particularly when using file-based content in a word processor-based DITA editor such as FrameMaker or Simply XML or Quark XML Author. (more…)

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