Growing up DITA: A practical DITA maturity model

The DITA standard contains multiple methods for leveraging reuse of content. Topics and maps can be re-used across the entire canon of content, supported by constructs such as cross-references (xref), content references (conref), relationship tables (rel tables), and conditional values. However, application of reuse mechanisms increases the complexity of implementing and processing the resulting DITA. Having a plan – a DITA maturity model – to systematically introduce reuse mechanisms can help anticipate obstacles, prevent problems, and streamline processes.

Healthwise began a move to convert its large database of consumer medical information to DITA 2 years ago. As we have gained knowledge and experience, we have been incorporating reuse mechanisms into our content development process. To do this in a thoughtful and forward-looking manner, we have developed a practical DITA maturity model as a guide for future content development and processing.

What can the audience expect to learn?

The audience will learn:

• How Healthwise has approached the introduction of reuse mechanisms into their consumer health information content.
• The “hierarchy” of reuse mechanisms that governs when a new mechanism will be introduced into the content development processes.
• Details about the practical DITA maturity model we have developed and use as guide for the future.
• The issues we have encountered and the solutions we developed to overcome obstacles to implementing the reuse mechanisms we use now.
• The planning to anticipate future issues that may arise as we move along the DITA maturity curve.

Meet the presenter

Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS, has been involved in structured authoring for more than 17 years. She has been a content developer and has led content development teams through a transition from unstructured to structured authoring using tools such as Arbortext Adept Editor, oXygen, and XMetaL. In addition, Maria has extensive experience acting as a liaison between content developers and software engineers involved in the creation of tools and features for content developers and in product publication.

Currently, Maria is the Healthwise Content and Multimedia Technical Manager on the content development team. In this role, she helps manage the repositories for the DITA and multimedia content. She also serves as a voting member of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee. As the technical leader for content developers, she regularly provides formal presentations and conducts technical training for Healthwise staff.

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