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October | 2013 | Tech-Right Documentation Blog

My Adventures in DITA, part 2

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October 27, 2013 at 11:19 amCategory:Technology | Writing

With the DITA Open Source working at the level I need it, for now, I need to go in and figure out how DITA is structured at a high level.

(I say “for now” because experience has taught me that base configurations never do what you want them to do when you get some experience in the system under examination.)

People will tell you that DITA is just XML, so it’s simple.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>

<title text="Hi there this is XML!/>

<para>Golly, XML is easy!</para>

That is easy XML. DITA is a wee bit more complex than that, as it is a full-fledged publishing system. Incoporating multiple XML files, multiple transform types, topic maps, other maps, this and that…honestly, I know very little about it, beyond the fact that it’s not easy.

Even if you buy some kind of tool that is supposed to make DITA authoring simple, the fact is that someone in a place using that tool will, from the start, need to understand the possible ways you can build and extend a DITA architecture.

So, as I go through it myself, I will blog my adventures in DITA.

My Adventures in DITA, part 1

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October 24, 2013 at 1:08 pmCategory:Technology | Writing

So after a presentation by Tim Grantham this week on his new InPrint solution, I thought it was time to look at DITA again.

Since my budget for new software comes solely from sweat equity, the Open Toolkit was the only choice. I will worry about an editor later.

The first test of DITA Open Toolkit is whether you can find the documentation. I didn’t find this process intuitive or helped by the README, but by clicking enough I found the XHTML help file.

The second test of DITA Open Toolkit is how well you know Java. Upon trying to build the demo output, I got a cryptic error message in the DOS shell. Upon thinking, I realised that of course I need a JDK.

After trying again to build the output, I realised I needed to edit the provided DOS batch file to tell it where to find the JDK bin directory.

This accomplished, the output built. Even though I added the JDK CLASSPATH to the startup batch file, Ant is still looking in my JRE for tools.jar.

So, not perfect, not intuitive or well documented, but it works. Now to find a free editor and get to work learning  DITA authoring.