DITA is here to stay

or better said… to grow with us

It is seldom that I hear news about XML/DITA application in the DACH region (the German-speaking countries), so I was glad to attend the TIM Users Conference in Constance last week. TIM is the XML authoring and content management system developed by Fischer Computertechnik.

The two-day conference was indeed an intensive knowledge exchange between TIM users, the FCT team, and their partners. As I expected, most of the attendees and speakers are using TIM in manufacturing and machine building enterprises, as well as on-site support services. Adobe FrameMaker and Microsoft Word are still broadly used as editors, but it is encouraging to hear about well established German tools joining the DITA world.

Last year I was reading in the DITA community about concerns that the standard was not being supported enough in Germany, but I must say it does not look that bad to me. As long as DITA is on academic curricula and major conference programs, no one can say it’s being discouraged. New and well-known, local CMS providers are offering and promoting DITA modules. When corporations as large as SAP are adopting a standard, the rest of the world has to follow.

As Prof. Wolfgang Ziegler was saying at tekom 2013 in Wiesbaden during his talk about information portals, DITA and XML have been around for 20 years… we don’t even talk about reasons for doing XML anymore – we just do it! (“Macht man einfach!“)

Prof. Sissi Closs is also talking regularly about DITA and single sourcing. In Constance she was presenting DITA Information Architecture as a relatively new and absolutely necessary discipline, functioning as a continuous, agile process of information management.

Dr. Walter Fischer was declaring himself convinced by the advantages DITA brings to the technical communication, especially considering what the Internet of Things triggers in the emerging Industry 4.0 age.

In workshops, presentations, lightning talks, over coffee, football 😉 WM public viewing or on a boat trip on Lake Constance, “TIM-players” from Austria, Switzerland and Germany were in agreement: We need more collaboration with industry partners, when it comes to exchanging content and integrating tools. Partner content providers are hiding behind a copyright clause and would only send a PDF or a protected copy of an illustration, instead of sharing the sources with integrators of their products and documentation.

Machines are talking to machines and to humans, yet humans are still reluctant to comply to standards and to exchange information. XML is everywhere around us anyway, so why do we have to wait and be forced to switch at the last moment, when it’s obvious we need to work with a standard like DITA, to collaborate and manage information?

Darwin is in the DITA name for a reason: it’s an XML standard that’s evolving with us.

Happy DIT’ing!