What is the impact of filtering on the generated output in DITA?

Filtering in DITA significantly affects the generated output by enabling the creation of tailored content for specific audiences, devices, or contexts. It allows for content customization, increased relevance, and efficient content management.

Filtering in DITA is a powerful mechanism that impacts the generated output in several ways. At its core, filtering allows content creators to customize the output for specific audiences, devices, or contexts. This means that content can be highly tailored to the needs of different user groups, ensuring that they receive the most relevant information.

Filtering enables content customization

DITA documents often contain variations for different user segments or platforms. For example, a user guide may have sections dedicated to beginners and advanced users. Filtering ensures that only the relevant content is included, resulting in a user guide that speaks directly to the audience’s skill level.

It enhances content relevance

When generating output, filtering ensures that readers receive information that is pertinent to their needs. This is particularly valuable in technical documentation, where readers may have diverse levels of expertise. For example, a software manual can filter content to display advanced features only to experienced users, simplifying the experience for beginners.

Filtering streamlines content management

Instead of maintaining separate documents for each output scenario, filtering allows for the reuse of content. A single DITA source can serve as the foundation for various outputs. When content is filtered, it’s like having multiple versions of a document without duplicating the source. This not only saves time and effort but also ensures consistency in content delivery.

Filtering allows for content optimization for different devices

In the age of responsive design, content must adapt to various screen sizes. Filtering can be employed to present content in a manner that’s optimized for desktops, tablets, and smartphones. This ensures a seamless reading experience across devices.


A DITA documentation project for a mobile application includes detailed instructions for all supported platforms, such as Android and iOS. Filtering is applied to ensure that when generating the Android user manual, only Android-specific instructions are included, and iOS-specific content is excluded. The same source content can be used to create an iOS user manual with iOS-specific instructions. This filtering process ensures that users receive content tailored to their device, increasing the relevance and usability of the documentation.

<!DOCTYPE topic PUBLIC "-//OASIS//DTD DITA Topic//EN" "topic.dtd">
<topic id="mobile_app_manual">
  <title>Mobile Application User Manual</title>
    <section id="android_instructions">
      <title>Android Instructions</title>
      <p>These are instructions for using the mobile app on Android devices.</p>
        <step>Step 1: Launch the app on your Android device.</step>
        <step>Step 2: Explore the Android-specific features.</step>

    <section id="ios_instructions">
      <title>iOS Instructions</title>
      <p>These are instructions for using the mobile app on iOS devices.</p>
        <step>Step 1: Launch the app on your iOS device.</step>
        <step>Step 2: Explore the iOS-specific features.</step>

In this example, we have a DITA topic that serves as the source content for the mobile application user manual. The topic includes sections for Android instructions and iOS instructions. Filtering can be applied to include or exclude these sections when generating specific user manuals for Android and iOS, tailoring the content to the respective devices.