How are data visualization elements linked to underlying data sources in DITA IT documentation?

Data visualization elements in DITA IT documentation are typically linked to underlying data sources through references or embedded structured data. This connection ensures that the visualizations reflect the most current and accurate information available.

Reference to Data Sources

One common approach is to create references to the underlying data sources within DITA topics. These references can be in the form of URLs or file paths pointing to external data files, databases, or APIs. Data visualization tools used alongside DITA can then fetch and process this data, creating dynamic visualizations that automatically update as the source data changes.

Embedded Structured Data

Alternatively, DITA topics can include embedded structured data, such as XML or JSON, which serves as the source of information for data visualizations. This data can be embedded directly within the topic using XML or JSON markup. Data visualization tools can parse this embedded data to generate charts, graphs, or other visual elements in real-time. When the embedded data changes, the visualizations automatically reflect those changes.


Here’s an example of how data visualization elements are linked to underlying data sources in DITA IT documentation:

<topic id="system_performance">
  <title>System Performance</title>
  <content>This chart illustrates the CPU usage over time using data embedded within the topic:
    <code format="json">
  "timestamp": ["2023-11-01", "2023-11-02", "2023-11-03"],
  "cpu_usage": [45.6, 53.2, 49.8]

In this example, the DITA topic titled “System Performance” contains an embedded JSON dataset. Visualization tools can use this data to create a time-series chart of CPU usage over the specified dates.