Can metadata be customized in DITA?

Yes, metadata can be customized in DITA. Customizing metadata in DITA allows organizations to define and use their own metadata attributes to capture specific information about content elements. This customization enhances the ability to categorize, describe, and manage content according to unique requirements and practices.

Customizing metadata in DITA involves the creation of custom attributes, specialization schemas, and metadata extension.

Creation of Custom Attributes:

Organizations can define custom metadata attributes to capture information that goes beyond the standard DITA metadata attributes like @title, @creator, @date, etc.

Custom attributes can be tailored to the specific needs of a DITA project or organization, allowing the capture of domain-specific information.

Specialization Schemas:

Specialization schemas are used to extend or modify the base DITA schema to accommodate custom metadata attributes.

These schemas define the structure, data types, and constraints of custom attributes.

Metadata Extension:

Content creators can apply custom metadata attributes to DITA elements within documents and maps.

Custom metadata attributes are assigned values like any other attributes, providing additional information about the content.


An organization needs to capture information about software documentation topics, including the version of the software being documented. They can customize metadata by creating a custom attribute @software-version.

<!– Custom specialization schema defining the @software-version attribute –>

        <!DOCTYPE specializations PUBLIC "-//MyCorp//DTD DITA Specializations//EN" "specializations.dtd">
                <attribute name="software-version" type="string"/>

<!– Using the custom metadata attribute in a DITA topic –>

            <title>Installation Guide</title>
            <software-version>Version 3.0</software-version>
                <!-- Content of the installation guide -->

In this example:

  • The organization created a custom attribute @software-version using a specialization schema.
  • This custom attribute is applied to a DITA topic, allowing the organization to specify the software version associated with that topic.
  • Custom metadata attributes like @software-version can be used to categorize and manage topics based on software versions, which may not be possible with standard DITA metadata attributes.