How can organizations create custom DITA topic types?

Organizations can create custom DITA topic types to address specific documentation needs that go beyond the standard DITA topic types like concept, task, and reference. Creating custom topic types allows organizations to structure and categorize content in a way that aligns with their unique requirements.

Creating custom DITA topic types involves defining new topic types based on existing DITA structures and elements. These custom topic types can be tailored to match the organization’s content and documentation standards. The process typically involves identifying documentation needs, defining the topic type structure, associating specialized processing, creating documentation and guidelines, and implementing the authoring environment.

  1. Identify Documentation Needs: Determine the specific types of content or information that require custom topic types. Consider the nature of the content, its purpose, and any unique structures or elements needed.
  2. Define Topic Type Structure: Create a Document Type Definition (DTD) or XML Schema Definition (XSD) that defines the structure and elements of the custom topic type. This includes specifying the elements, attributes, and nesting rules.
  3. Associate Specialized Processing: Define how the custom topic type should be processed and rendered in output formats. This may involve specifying transformation rules, styling, or processing instructions.
  4. Create Documentation and Guidelines: Document the custom topic type, including guidelines for authors on when and how to use it. Provide clear instructions on the expected content and structure.
  5. Implement in the Authoring Environment: Ensure that the custom topic type is available and integrated into the authoring environment or content management system used by the organization’s authors and content creators.

Example: An organization develops medical software and needs to create a custom DITA topic type for documenting medical procedures. They require a specialized structure that includes fields for listing medical equipment, patient information, and procedural steps. Here’s an example of how they might define a custom DITA topic type called “medicalprocedure”:

        <!-- Custom DITA Topic Type: medicalprocedure -->
        <!ELEMENT medicalprocedure (title, equipment, patient, steps)>

        <!ELEMENT title (#PCDATA)>
        <!ELEMENT equipment (#PCDATA)>
        <!ELEMENT patient (#PCDATA)>
        <!ELEMENT steps (step+)>
        <!ELEMENT step (#PCDATA)>

In this example:

  • The “medicalprocedure” topic type is defined with specific elements like “title,” “equipment,” “patient,” and “steps.”
  • Authors can use this custom topic type to create structured documentation for medical procedures, including the necessary information.
  • Once defined and implemented, authors can create content using the “medicalprocedure” custom topic type, ensuring that medical procedure documentation follows the organization’s specific format and structure.