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DITA Standard

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an XML standard that enables you to author, produce, and deliver your technical or instructional content.

What is DITA?

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an OASIS open standard for Extensible Markup Language (XML) that is used to create, structure, and distribute content.

What is information typing?

Information typing is the process of identifying and categorizing different kinds of information, typically conceptual, task-oriented, or reference information. These different types of information each go in dedicated topic types that correspond to the information types.

What is a DITA specialization?

A DITA specialization is the process of creating a specialized, or custom, DITA element, topic, or attribute, using an existing DITA element as the base model for specialization. This enables you to customize DITA elements to align with your content model or needs.

Where can I find the DITA Specification?

OASIS publishes the DITA Specification for all versions of DITA. You can find the current DITA specification under the following link: DITA Version 1.3 Specification.

What is a DITA map?

Maps enable you to create deliverables by adding references to topics or other maps. Think of a map as a book binder and topics as pages. You have a binder (map) and you fill it with pages (topics). You can also nest maps within other maps to create larger publications.

What is the difference between DITA map types?

Bookmaps are dedicated for PDF outputs. They can contain a frontmatter element and a backmatter element that can store content specific to booklike outputs. For example, a frontmatter element may contain a dynamic table of contents. You can also insert multiple appendix elements to bookmaps.
Learning Maps
Learning maps are dedicated for instructional content that you can author in Heretto CCMS just like your technical content. For example, you can create a course in Heretto CCMS and then print it as a PDF or even upload it to Moodle. You can also reuse your technical content in your instructional content to leverage topic and element reuse.
sitemaps define the structure of your web asset that you can publish your content to by using the Deploy API. For more information, request the Heretto Deploy Reference Guide.
Maps are generally used for web-outputs such as online helps or webhelps. They are also useful if you want to structure content in a reusable way. For example, a map that includes a chapter can be reused in multiple assets.

What reuse methods are available?

You can reuse your DITA content using different mechanisms. You can reuse topics using topic references, or topicrefs. You can reuse maps using map references, or maprefs. You can reuse smaller bits of content at the element level using content references, or conrefs. You can insert variable content into your topics using content key references, or conkeyrefs. You can also profile content for different audiences using filtering attributes.

Where can I learn more about DITA?

We recommend referring to, which offers free courses to learn DITA at your own pace.

How do I link content?

You can insert links to other pieces of content using either direct or indirect linking mechanisms. To insert a direct link, you can use cross references, or xrefs. You can use these to link to other topics, external resources, or pieces of content within a topic. To insert an indirect link, you can use key references, or keyrefs. Key references link to a key instead of linking to the content directly, so you can modify the link for different maps by changing key definitions.

In what order are keys resolved?

When keys are defined in more than one level of a map hierarchy, and they contain the same keys, the keys that are closest to the map root level take precedence. When keys are defined on the same level of the map hierarchy, and they contain the same keys, the first keys in the map hierarchy take precedence over keys that occur further down the hierarchy.
Note: You can modify the default order of keys resolution by using the keyscope attribute.