Can DITA be authored in plain text editors?

DITA is typically not authored in plain text but rather in a structured XML format. Since DITA is designed for structured documentation, offering predefined elements and attributes enables effective content organization and categorization. These structured components encompass titles, sections, lists, tables, and metadata, among many others. Using XML enforces this structure, ensuring consistency and clarity in your documentation.

As a result of this structured format, DITA enables content reuse. XML enables you to define and reuse content components called topics across different documents and publications. Plain text lacks the hierarchical structure and tagging necessary for content identification and retrieval, making content reuse challenging.

DITA relies heavily on metadata and attributes to enhance content discoverability and management. Metadata, such as titles, author information, and keywords, plays a crucial role in categorizing and searching for content. XML’s structured format allows you to seamlessly embed this metadata within your documents, facilitating easier management and utilization.

DITA documents are often localized and translated into multiple regions and languages. XML provides a standardized format that translation tools can process efficiently. Plain text lacks the built-in structure that translation tools rely on for context and identification, making the translation process more error-prone and labor-intensive.

Many organizations implement automated processes and content management systems for DITA documentation. XML’s structured nature enables automation of tasks such as content assembly, publishing, and version control. Plain text lacks the inherent structure that makes these automated processes feasible.