How is technical documentation (e.g., ship specifications, navigation manuals) structured and authored in DITA?

Technical documentation, such as ship specifications and navigation manuals, benefits greatly from the structured authoring capabilities of DITA XML. Here’s how technical documentation in the maritime industry is typically structured and authored using DITA:

Modular Structure

DITA encourages a modular approach to documentation. Ship specifications, for instance, can be broken down into discrete topics or modules, each addressing specific aspects like engine specifications, cargo capacity, or safety features. This modular structure enables content reuse, making it easy to update information across multiple documents when changes occur.

Topic-Based Authoring

Maritime technical documentation is often authored using DITA topics. Each topic focuses on a specific subject, providing a clear and concise description. For navigation manuals, topics can cover various aspects of navigation procedures, such as passage planning, electronic chart display, or emergency navigation protocols. DITA’s topic-based authoring ensures that content is well-organized and easy to manage.

Structured Metadata

DITA allows the inclusion of structured metadata, such as ship model, revision history, and authorship details, within documentation topics. This metadata enhances traceability and facilitates the management of ship specifications and navigation manuals over time. For example, a ship specification topic may include metadata about the vessel’s build date, builder, and previous revisions.


Here’s an example of how a DITA topic for ship specifications may be structured:

<topic id="ship_specifications">
  <title>Ship Specifications</title>
  <author>MaritimeTech Inc.</author>

In this DITA topic, ship specifications are documented, including version information, the date of the last revision, and the authoring entity. This structured approach to metadata ensures that ship specifications are well-documented and can be efficiently managed and updated.