What is the <data> element used for in DITA metadata?

The <data> element in DITA metadata is used for capturing specific data values associated with content elements. It serves as a flexible container for metadata information, allowing content creators to define and provide custom metadata attributes and their corresponding values. The <data> element is often used when standard DITA metadata attributes do not cover the specific information that needs to be captured.

It is important to note that the content of a <data> element will not appear in DITA output.

The use of the <data> element involves custom metadata attributes, attribute-value pairs, and adding flexibility.

Custom Metadata Attributes: The <data> element is commonly employed to define custom metadata attributes. These attributes are not predefined in the DITA standard but are created by organizations or content creators to capture domain-specific information about content elements.

Attribute-Value Pairs: Within a <data> element, metadata is structured as attribute-value pairs. The <data> element contains a sub-element called <name>, which specifies the name or identifier of the metadata attribute, and a sub-element called <value>, which holds the actual data value associated with that attribute.

Flexibility: The use of <data> elements provides flexibility in defining metadata attributes and capturing relevant information. Organizations can create custom metadata attributes to suit their specific content management and categorization needs.


    <title>Product Documentation</title>
        <!-- Custom metadata using <data> elements -->
        <data name="product">SampleApp</data>
        <data name="version">2.0</data>
        <data name="release-date">2023-10-15</data>
        <p>This documentation provides details about using <product>SampleApp</product> version <version>2.0</version>.</p>

In this example:

  • The <data> elements within the <topicmeta> section are used to define custom metadata attributes, such as “product,” “version,” and “release-date.”
  • Each <data> element contains a <name> sub-element specifying the attribute name and a <value> sub-element holding the corresponding data value.
  • The metadata attributes provide specific information about the product being documented, its version, and the release date.
  • The data values can be referenced within the content using specialized elements like <product> and <version> to ensure consistency and proper attribution.