Can specialized maps inherit elements from base maps?

Specialized DITA maps can inherit elements and constraints from base maps. Inheritance allows organizations to build on a standard map structure while customizing specific elements, attributes, and metadata for specialized content requirements.

Base Map Definition

The base map serves as the foundation, defining the standard map structure, common elements, and constraints. It can be created with a DTD or Schema.

Specialized Map Creation

To create a specialized map, content creators reference the base map and customize it by adding or modifying elements, attributes, or metadata as needed for specialized content.


The specialized map inherits all the elements and constraints from the base map, ensuring consistency with the standard structure while incorporating specialized content elements.


A software company uses a base map for general product documentation and specializes it for software developer documentation:

Base Map – product-docs.ditamap

<!DOCTYPE map PUBLIC "-//OASIS//DTD DITA Map//EN" "map.dtd">
  <title>Product Documentation</title>
  <topicref href="introduction.dita" />
  <topicref href="user-guide.ditamap" />

Specialized Map – developer-docs.ditamap

<!DOCTYPE map PUBLIC "-//OASIS//DTD DITA Map//EN" "map.dtd">
  <title>Developer Documentation</title>
  <topicref href="introduction.dita" />
  <topicref href="api-reference.ditamap" />

In this example:

  • The base map, “product-docs.ditamap,” defines a standard structure for product documentation.
  • The specialized map, “developer-docs.ditamap,” inherits the structure from the base map but includes additional topics specific to developer documentation.