How is visual documentation (e.g., illustrations, diagrams) created and managed in aerospace using DITA?

Visual documentation, such as illustrations and diagrams, is a crucial component of aerospace materials, aiding in the clear and effective communication of complex concepts and procedures. DITA XML provides a structured approach to creating and managing visual content within aerospace documentation. Here’s how visual documentation is handled using DITA:

1. Topic-Based Approach: DITA encourages a topic-based content creation strategy. Visual content, including illustrations and diagrams, is often embedded within topics. Each topic addresses a specific subject or concept. Within a topic, you can include images using DITA elements like <image> or <fig>. These elements reference images stored in a separate location, ensuring that visual content is consistently managed and can be reused across multiple topics.

<topic id="engine_diagram">
  <title>Engine Diagram</title>
    <p>This topic provides an overview of the engine components.</p>
    <fig href="images/engine-diagram.png" scalefit="yes">
      <title>Engine Components</title>

2. Image Repository: To effectively manage visual content, it’s common to maintain a centralized image repository. This repository contains all visual assets, including illustrations, diagrams, and photographs. DITA topics reference these images using relative links. This approach ensures that if an image needs to be updated or replaced, the change is applied universally across all topics that reference it.

3. Version Control: Just like textual content, visual content may need version control. DITA supports this by allowing version indicators within the topics referencing images. This helps track changes and ensure that the correct version of the visual content is displayed to users. An example of version control within a DITA topic:

<fig href="images/engine-diagram.png" scalefit="yes" class="- version-2-1">
  <title>Engine Components (v2.1)</title>

By using DITA’s structured approach, a topic-based organization, and central image repositories, aerospace organizations can efficiently create and manage visual documentation. This ensures that illustrations, diagrams, and other visual assets remain consistent, accurate, and up-to-date across a wide range of aerospace training materials.