DITA is an XML standard, not a complete System. The following table presents an overview of the features of this standard and essential exentsions implemented in SCHEMA ST4.
Advantages of DITA ...
What the DITA standard lacks that SCHEMA ST4 can add..
DITA can also represent simple networks. Older book-oriented DTDs were only able to represent hierarchical text structures. DITA, by reusing topics in maps, can represent basic network structures. The topic hierarchy is only defined in the delivery context.
DITA can "inherit" and "specialize". Object-oriented concepts of data modeling reduce data redundancy.
- DITA is XML: XML is the standard for semi-structured data, allowing for the separation of structure, layout and content.
- DITA is a widely supported XML-based international standard and one of the most widely known OASIS standards broadly supported by the industry and many software applications.
- DITA, more than XML, implements a particular concept of modularity for topics and links. It assumes that there is a creation context and a "delivery context" for topics. With DITA, for the first time a realistic systematic framework for the use of XML topics is available.
- DITA uses topic-oriented XML. XML can also be data- or document-oriented, but topic-oriented content structuring is economically imperative. Monolithic, book-oriented DTDs are no longer viable.
- DITA features a basic architecture for reuse. Structures for information reuse exist in the topic-map relationships. In older XML standards, a complete publication was always a single entity, monolithic and hierarchical. In DITA, a complete publication is an arrangement of several DITA topics. The DITA architecture allows for the reuse of information, not only of entire topics but also fragments.
- DITA treats links largely as the equivalent of topics. As a rule, older book-oriented DTDs ignored links. Only "topic-based documents" for the first time require and use the full semantic expressiveness of typed links.
- DITA as an XML standard provides only a narrow framework which needs to be brought to life by an underlying system. Without an editing system, DITA is only a rulebook.
- DITA's modeling is not all-encompassing. It does not contain specific modeling for branches of industry, nor any company-specific modeling. DITA has integrated concepts such as specialization, but as with other XML standards, special applications need DTD modeling.
- DITA is not multilingual. It has no concepts or functionality beyond the usual XML standards for managing more than one language.
- DITA has no version management. It has no structures or concepts for managing more than one version of topics or maps. For version management or branching, an integrated editing system with a database is needed.
- DITA alone cannot realize integrated variants management. Variant control not only assembles topics into different variants, but must also take into account fragment and text variable control. Reuse and reporting (guaranteeing "referential integrity") is almost impossible without a database.
- DITA does not assist the implementation of processes in workflows. The requirements of tool-supported processes (workflows) are especially challenging for reuse of topic-oriented documents. An XML standard does not offer workflow support.
- In addition to the content structure, the organizational structure and document life cycle must be adequately represented in the editing process. DITA alone does not cover the entire complexity of this. Connections between multilingual, versioned, and reused topics, as well as roles, permissions, release status, and workflows are too multi-layered for an XML standard alone to define them.
- One graphical user interface in an editor is not enough for presentation and handling. Even if the entire complexity could be adequately presented, it is not possible to derive from an XML standard a usable application with a graphical user interface that is powerful and secure when used by more than one user. An XML editor with a DITA extension is not enough.
Solution: DITA only partly covers the requirements of the editing process. Integrated and implemented in SCHEMA ST4, DITA will take you in the right direction.
With its widespread use, its concept of modularity and tool support, DITA meets more requirements in the editing process than other XML standards (DocBook, for example), but is still not a complete solution. A standard application is needed to realize the concepts inherent in DITA, as well as other essential concepts that a declarative standard such as XML by definition cannot represent.