Review: DITA for Practitioners, Volume 1: Architecture and Technology

Eliot Kimber has done a great job of compiling relevant, actionable guidelines and practices in the first volume of DITA for Practitioners. I fall into the “those with prior DITA experience” category. As a self-taught DITA (and XML, for that matter) user, I found a lot here that filled in the gaps in my knowledge. (Especially helpful was the section on essential terminology.) While I skimmed over some of the basic info in Chapters 2 and 3, new users will find a thorough explanation of how to get up running, writing and producing output with DITA and the Open Toolkit.

In later chapters, Eliot goes into how to install, run, and make basic customizations to the toolkit. Even though I’ve created lots of plugins, I’m certain I’ll come back to the sections where he explains extension points and best practices for creating ant targets. Part 2 builds on the foundation set in part 1, layering in complexities like specialization, compound maps, vocabularies, reuse, and more. (I’m still trying to wrap my brain around Chapter 8 on linking and addressing.)

In short, I wish I’d had this book when I started out implementing DITA four years ago. I’m certainly glad I have it now.

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