How can metadata be used for version control in DITA maps?

Metadata in DITA maps can be used for version control to track changes and revisions in a structured manner. By incorporating version-related metadata, DITA maps help content creators manage different versions of documents or topics and facilitate collaboration and content tracking.

Metadata for version control in DITA maps involves the use of specific elements and attributes to capture information about document versions, changes, and revisions. This metadata enables version attributes, change tracking, branching and merging, content reuse, publication dates, and monitoring status and review information.

Version Attributes

DITA maps often include version-related attributes that allow specification of the version of a document or topic. Common attributes include product-version and audience-version.

Change Tracking

Metadata elements can be used to document changes, modifications, or updates made to topics. These changes can include descriptions of the modification, the author responsible, and the date of the change.

Branching and Merging

Version control in DITA maps also extends to managing branches and merges, especially in collaborative environments. Metadata can indicate which branch a topic belongs to or when branches were merged.

Content Reuse

Metadata can be used to specify whether a topic is a new version of an existing one or a reused topic from a previous version. This helps maintain content consistency while managing revisions.

Publication Dates

Metadata may include publication dates, which are crucial for tracking when a specific version of the content was published or updated.

Status and Review Information

Metadata can include status information (e.g., draft, final) and details about the review process (e.g., reviewers, review dates) to track the content’s progress.


A DITA map for a software user manual uses metadata for version control:

        <!DOCTYPE map PUBLIC "-//OASIS//DTD DITA Map//EN" "map.dtd">
            <title>My Software User Manual</title>
            <!-- Metadata for Version Control -->
            <!-- Topics -->
            <topicref href="introduction.dita">
                    <change-description>Initial release</change-description>
                    <change-author>John Doe</change-author>

            <topicref href="installation.dita">
                    <change-description>Installation instructions for v1.0</change-description>
                    <change-author>Jane Smith</change-author>

            <topicref href="release-notes.dita">
                    <change-description>Release notes for v1.0</change-description>
                    <change-author>Mike Johnson</change-author>

In this example:

  • <product-version> and <audience-version> metadata elements specify the version of the product and audience-specific version for the entire document.
  • Each <topicref> includes metadata about its version, change description, author, and date. This information helps track changes and revisions at the topic level.