Introduction to DITA

DITA is an XML standard, an architectural approach, and a writing methodology, developed by technical communicators for technical communicators.

DITA stands for the Darwin Information Typing Architecture.

The "Darwin" is in homage to Charles Darwin, the famed scientist credited with the theory of evolution following the publication of his On the Origin of Species. DITA incorporates principles of specialisation, adaption and inheritance that are reminiscent of Darwinian theory (only in a completely different field!).

Photo of Charles Darwin: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, LC-USZ61-104]

Charles Darwin

. Photo: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, LC-USZ61-104]

"Information Type" refers to the focus on categorisation of information. (Typing means categorisation in this context, not keyboarding!)

"Architecture" indicates that DITA is not just an XML standard; it is an approach, a workflow, a methodology, and a philosophy.

One good, short definition of DITA is:
DITA defines an XML architecture for designing, writing, managing, and publishing many kinds of information in print and on the Web.

Adopting a DITA approach is not really about tools and technologies. DITA represents a change to the way that information is developed.