Structure(s)
The stability of the structure is directly related to the security of the foundation Blake Higginbotham, Architect

Structure is the DNA of your Content.

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecular structure that stores the genetic information behind the growth and reproduction of all living things. Without structure, DNA could not sustain life. Along similar lines, effective content facilitates amazing accomplishments, but it requires structure to achieve anything significant.

When it comes to content creation and management, too many companies lack a structured-writing approach. They use word processors that provide no support for structured writing, and many authors make no use of templates or paragraph styles. Anything goes in a multi-authoring environment that allows the tyranny of the urgent overrule the benefits of structured writing; however, the return for structured authoring is content that engages inquisitive customers and boosts sales.

Why DITA?

Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an XML standard defined specifically for technical documentation. This standard provides a topic-based authoring structure around information types such as task instructions, conceptual topics, and reference materials. In addition, it supports a wide variety of outputs and formats through information mapping schemes. Within DITA, you can add specialized vocabularies, thus giving your authors the freedom to express semantic ideas. Finally, all standard DITA tools can process your content even with your proprietary elements added.

Why XML?

XML is short for eXtensible Markup Language, and it is probably the most important change in the world of computer software since the introduction of the PC. Even if you do not see it on the surface, most of the software running on your computer uses XML to store data.

An XML file is like a well-organized filing cabinet. Every drawer is clearly identified with a naming convention, and each one contains a series of folders with colored tabs in alternating positions along the top. You do not need to know the meaning of all the tabs to quickly find the information you need. Even if you have no idea what is in the other drawers, you can add information to a file without disrupting the work of others using the same cabinet.

The power of XML is exactly this: each application only needs to know that part of the XML file on which it is supposed to work. Because they understand XML, modern computer systems can easily exchange files between various applications.

Which XML?

If you have ever bought colored folder tabs at an office supply store, you know they are blank until you mark them with a labeling scheme. The idea behind XML is the same. It does not define any specific meaning until you choose an XML standard. Only then can your content become reusable for other authors. For this reason, it is a good idea for your authors to use common naming conventions.

Hundreds of XML standards exist, each of which is optimized for a specific area using content or data. If your organization already uses an XML standard, you may or may not find good reasons to move to another one. One of the great advantages of XML, however, is the ability to automate such a move with Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT). See Transformation.

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