October 27, 2005

DITA in DocBook?

Norm Walsh, King of All That Is DocBook, posted his experiment to do DITA-like things in DocBook.

Most telling, to my weary eyes, are the comments, which Norm graciously leaves in. (Unlike this blog, where I get so much spam that comments are turned off).

It reminds me of the whole Browser Wars thing all over again. Back then proselytizing a particular Web technology (remember the MARQUEE tag? JavaScript Style Sheets?) meant increasing share and thus increased revenue.

But DocBook and DITA are open standards now. Even the people who stand to make money from the use of either standard, the authoring tool and CMS vendors, support both standards, so they shouldn't really care which one people choose, right? (Ok, with the exception of marketing hype, and resource allocation for function development, but fundamentally, you know what I mean).

So the people who would truly lose out if DocBook "loses share" are the folks who do just DocBook--consultants and so forth. But as we've seen in other technologies, those folks usually just gravitate to where the money is--from WinHelp to HTMLHelp to MAMLHelp, from Pivotal to Siebel to OracleCRM, and so on.

In that case the approach Erik Hennum describes in his comments to Norm's experiment post make the most sense. Let both standards thrive to the extent the "market" lets them. Let people move stuff back and forth. Because I can see writing a Cisco Press-like book in DocBook, but wanting to pull in a bunch of DITA tasks written by the tech doc folks so I don't have to rewrite them.

And fo' shizzle, DITA is smack-dead-on for Help development. We were going to try to do a similar typed topic scheme in NetHelp, using the aforementioned JavaScript Style Sheets and what was then considered "DHTML", but never got a chance to implement.

DocBook, DITA, DITA, DocBook: Can't we all just get along?

Posted by jameshom at October 27, 2005 11:07 AM | TrackBack
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