To specialise or not to specialise

Specialisation has pros and cons. It adds technical complexity, but can provide better and more appropriate information structures. Specialisation should be carefully planned.

One of the most difficult questions for DITA adopters is whether or not to specialise.

One of the impediments to specialisation is the perceived technical difficulty in both designing the structure and coding the necessary schema files. Certainly, specialisation is beyond the skills of a typical technical writer. However, a DITA project team should include a broad range of expertise, and outsourcing tasks that are beyond the capabilities of the team is a good strategy.

On the other hand, unless you fully understand the reasons why the base content models are inadequate for your own content, you should not specialise.

Before designing your own specialised information type, you should check to ensure that there is no public domain specialisation that would suit your needs. A number of public domain specialisations have been developed by OASIS DITA sub-committees, industry groups, and individuals.