What are content references (conref) to non-DITA resources?

Content references to non-DITA resources in a DITA documentation context refer to the practice of including or linking to external files or resources that are not inherently part of the DITA framework. These non-DITA resources can be various types of files, such as images, multimedia files, PDF documents, spreadsheets, or any other content format that is not directly managed within the DITA structure. Including these external resources provides supplementary or supporting materials that may be necessary for a comprehensive understanding of the topic or subject matter.

In DITA documentation, non-DITA resources are typically referenced using special DITA elements or attributes designed for this purpose. These elements or attributes enable content creators to establish links or embed references to external files seamlessly. When readers access DITA content that contains references to non-DITA resources, they can follow these links or access the referenced files to obtain additional information or context relevant to the topic at hand.

For example, a DITA topic is discussing the features of a software application. To illustrate these features comprehensively, the topic may reference non-DITA resources like screenshots, which are typically image files in formats like JPEG or PNG. These screenshots visually depict the software’s user interface, providing readers with a visual aid to better understand the text-based descriptions in the topic. By including these image files as non-DITA resources and referencing them within the topic, the documentation becomes more informative and user-friendly.