DITA Open Toolkit: Not quite so scary

Simon Bate / DITALeave a Comment

Last October, I wrote about being scared.  Today, I want to talk about something that seems somewhat scary, but it isn’t…or shouldn’t be.  It may be daunting, but it’s not scary. That “thing” is the DITA Open Toolkit (DITA OT).

The DITA OT is the most common way to convert DITA content into output.  The output from the DITA OT is just about as ordinary as it gets.  People’s first reaction on seeing the output is: how can I make it look the way I want? 
Scriptorium’s new white paper Hacking the DITA OT explains many of the techniques you can use to change the appearance of the DITA OT HTML output.  These range from CSS changes to DITA specialization.    
When people approach these kind of changes, they often get lost in the structures and frameworks used by the DITA OT.  What they forget is that it’s perfectly acceptable to start out by making quick, proof-of-concept changes. This white paper shows you how to make these sorts of “hacks.”  The paper explains how you can go back and formalize your hacks into more elegant, framework-based changes. 
As I was writing the paper, I kept slipping up and saying “it’s easy to…” or “you simply…”.  My faithful editor corrected me, saying “it might be easy for you, but it might not be easy for your readers.”   He’s right.  But after reading this paper, you might find the DITA OT just a little less scary. 
About the Author

Simon Bate

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Involved in TechComm all my working life (since the time of vacuum tubes, core memory, punch cards, and bone implements). I've worked as a writer, a manager, and—for the past score of years—building software tools for TechComm. My motto is "Let the computer do the work." Outside of work, I balance the calories I create and consume in the kitchen with weight-training sessions at the gym. I also sing Tenor in various choirs and choruses.

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