What challenges can arise when reusing content with conditional processing in DITA?

When reusing content with conditional processing in DITA, various challenges can arise.

Conditional processing in DITA allows authors to include or exclude content based on specific conditions. This is particularly useful for creating content variants for different products, audiences, or outputs. However, it introduces several challenges:

  • Complex Content Structures: Conditional content often leads to complex document structures. Conditions can be nested, and managing these structures can become intricate, making it difficult to visualize how content variations impact the document as a whole.
  • Translation Complexity: Translating content with conditional processing can be challenging, as each condition may result in different translated content. Ensuring consistency in translated versions for all conditions is crucial but can be labor-intensive.
  • Content Fragmentation: Reusing conditional content may lead to fragmented content components. This fragmentation can hinder content maintenance, as updates to the source content may not automatically propagate to all relevant conditions.
  • Increased Translation Costs: Each condition may require separate translation efforts, which can increase translation costs and turnaround times, especially for content with numerous conditions.


Consider a DITA topic that explains a product’s features with conditional content for different product versions. The topic uses conditions to show features specific to each product version. As a result, maintaining translations for multiple product versions and ensuring consistency across all conditions can be a complex and resource-intensive task.

<topic id="product-features">
  <title>Product Features</title>
    <section conkeyref="product-version" conref="feature-descriptions.dita"/>