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OASIS TC for Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA)

OASIS TC Call for Participation: DITA TC

Date:      Mon, 29 Mar 2004 09:40:31 -0500
From:      Karl F. Best <>
Subject:   OASIS TC Call for Participation: DITA TC

A new OASIS technical committee is being formed. The OASIS Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) Technical Committee has been proposed by the following members of OASIS: Paul Grosso, Arbortext; Indi Liepa, Nokia; Eliot Kimber, Innodata Isogen; Don Day, Michael Priestley, and Dave Schell, IBM; and France Baril, JoAnn Hackos, Debbie Aleyne Lapeyre, and Paul Antonov, Individual members.

The proposal for a new TC meets the requirements of the OASIS TC Process (see, and is appended to this message. The TC name, statement of purpose, scope, list of deliverables, audience, and language specified in the proposal will constitute the TC's charter. The TC Process allows these items to be clarified (revised); such clarifications (revisions), as well as submissions of technology for consideration by the TC and the beginning of technical discussions, may occur no sooner than the TC's first meeting.

As specified by the OASIS TC Process, the requirements for becoming a member of the TC at the first meeting are that you must 1) be an employee of an OASIS member organization or an Individual member of OASIS; 2) notify the TC chair of your intent to participate at least 15 days prior to the first meeting; and 3) attend the first meeting of the TC. For OASIS members, to register for the TC using the OASIS collaborative tools, go to the TC's public web page at and click on the button for "Join This TC" at the top of the page. You may add yourself to the roster of the TC either as a Prospective Member (if you intend to become a member of the TC) or an Observer. A notice will automatically be sent to the TC chair, which fulfills requirement #2 above.

OASIS members may also join the TC after the first meeting. Note that membership in OASIS TCs is by individual, and not by organization.

Non-OASIS members may read the TC's mail list archive, view the TC's web page, and send comments to the TC using a web form available on the TC's web page; click the "Send A Comment" button. The archives of the TC's mail list and public comments are visible at

Further information about the topic of this TC may be found on the Cover Pages under "Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA)" at:


Karl F. Best
Vice President, OASIS
office  +1 978.667.5115 x206
mobile +1 978.761.1648

DITA Technical Committee Charter

Name of the Technical Committee

OASIS Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) Technical Committee

Statement of Purpose

The purpose of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee (TC) is to define and maintain the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) and to promote the use of the architecture for creating standard information types and domain-specific markup vocabularies.

DITA is specializable, which allows for the introduction of specific semantics for specific purposes without increasing the size of other DTDs, and which allows the inheritance of shared design and behavior and interchangeability with unspecialized content.

More specific semantics allow:

  • more automatable processes
  • more consistent authoring
  • better retrievability
  • better applicability to specific groups

The work of this TC will differ from similar efforts such as DocBook because of:

  • broader scope, inasmuch as DITA applies to more areas than just technical manuals
  • more specific scope, inasmuch as DITA applies to topic-oriented information rather than all technical manuals

Scope of Work

The TC will create specifications for the Darwin Information Typing Architecture suitable for submitting for balloting by OASIS membership for OASIS standard status.

DITA is an XML-based specification for modular and extensible topic-based information. DITA provides a model for defining and processing new information types as specializations of existing types.

DITA populates the model with an extensible hierarchy of standard types. DITA encourages reuse by reference either of topics or of fragments of topics. DITA topics:

  • can be assembled in different combinations for many deliverables or output formats
  • are optimized for navigation and search
  • are well suited for concurrent authoring and content management

Through use of a common specification, DITA content owners can benefit from industry support, interoperability, and reuse of community contributions. At the same time, through specialization, content owners can address the specific requirements of their business or industry.

This committee builds upon the foundation established by the work of IBM on DITA.

The tasks of the TC include:

  • To articulate the principles of the DITA architecture through formal specifications
  • To assess the relationship of DITA specialization to emerging XML standards (such as the ontology initiatives associated with the Semantic Web)
  • To define appropriate enhancements of the architecture
  • To standardize the information types in the DITA type hierarchy
  • To encourage cooperation within and between the various topical domains of potential DITA users. It is anticipated that, in addition to the common information elements provided in the base specification, specific communities of users may develop additional, specialized type hierarchies of particular relevance to their use cases. The TC may choose to recognize new information types or domain specializations where a new specialization provides a standard solution for a well-established need, has broad support, does not conflict with existing types, and serves as a useful base for additional specialization. For example, the concept, task, and reference information types do so for the user assistance community. The TC anticipates maintaining a set of core information types of general utility, implemented in schema languages (such as DTD or XML Schema) selected by the TC. Recognized types may also be maintained by other groups (including other OASIS TCs).
  • To design a generic methodology for specialized extensions of the base specification by user communities. This methodology may address issues such as delivery of a reference implementation, operation of a public registry for specializations, suggested guidelines for development of a user community's information types, and so forth. When the above tasks are completed, the TC may reconsider further work, which will be defined as allowed by the OASIS TC Process.

List of Deliverables

Within three months of the first meeting, the existing DITA specification will be contributed to OASIS by its author, will be further developed by the TC and approved as a Committee Draft, and then submitted to OASIS for consideration as an OASIS Standard. The specification consists of:

  • a formal definition of the rules for creating new information type and domain specializations through specialization
  • the DTDs and XML Schemas for the initial DITA information type, domain, and map specializations
  • a processing model description that defines standard usage of the DITA specifications

Within six months of the first meeting, the TC will seek to encourage specific specialized extensions of the DITA specification, as well as these deliverables:

  • guidelines and methodologies for the development of DITA specializations by a user community
  • a possible specification of a standards-based public registry or repository for such DITA specializations or a method for creating or federating such resources

The TC may consider the creation of subcommittees where there is an immediate interest in developing specialized extensions, but it is also anticipated that such extensions could be adopted locally and informally within specific information exchange communities.

One year after producing the first DITA Committee Draft, the TC will produce a new major revision of DITA including:

  • evolution of the DITA architecture to address issues such as namespaces, type unification, extension by addition, and extensible enumerations
  • formal specifications of all aspects of the DITA architecture with primers, use cases, and scenarios
  • maintenance of the earlier DITA types
  • addition to the base specification of those new DITA information types that appear from specialized uses to have general utility
  • a continuing methodology for the harvesting and incorporation of additional, useful types into the base specification

Anticipated Audience

  • Writers of other specifications that could benefit from DITA's specialization model or other aspects of its architecture
  • Vendors offering XML authoring or development products
  • XML architects and developers who design and write XML applications
  • Information developers and information architects

TC Language


Additional Information

The following is non-normative text for the purpose of setting up the TC.

Identification of Similar or Applicable Work

DITA is an enabling technology that has potential relationships with many other activities. It is compatible with ISO topic maps, although DITA's use of the word "topic" is considerably more constrained than in that standard, and DITA maps use structuring principles specifically designed to support specialization. It supports semantic web initiatives, inasmuch as DITA both enables rich semantic markup and provides a taxonomy for semantics through its type and domain hierarchies. It is compatible with ontological efforts in general, inasmuch as DITA maps are a way of describing the relationships among topics, and can be used to describe multiple ontologies across the same topic sets.

Because DITA is a constrained architecture dealing specifically with topics and relationships among topics, it does not directly impact more general activities. However, DITA topics are ideal candidates for participation in semantic web relationships, and DITA maps can be excellent sources for the description of these relationships.

The work of the OASIS DocBook TC is similar or applicable.

The proposed work is different from DocBook in that DITA is topic-oriented, which lends itself to different uses than DocBook. Topic orientation allows the separation of content (specific topics) from context (including links to other topics, context-specific metadata, navigation, and print hierarchies.

The DITA TC will identify liaisons with other committees or groups doing related work to investigate points of common interest. Additionally, the TC may have some coordinated activities with the DocBook TC focusing on interoperability of content in the two formats.

List of Contributions of Existing Technical Work

The proposers anticipate that IBM will contribute a starter set of information types, formal definitions of four domains, five document types, two maps, and several common modules.

See the table below for a list of the current DITA DTDs, schemas, and related documentation. Additional information concerning these materials, along with some IBM proprietary materials that are not being contributed, can be found at:

Other contributions within the scope of the TC will also be considered.

Date and Time of the First Meeting

4 May 2004, 11am ET, a teleconference to be hosted by IBM

Projected On-Going Meeting Schedule

11 EST each Tuesday for 1 hour, for the year following formation of the TC; hosted by IBM


TC Convener

Dave Schell

Proposed Chair

Don Day


Table of current DITA DTDs, schemas, and related documentation

                    Unit DTDs                Schemas
                    -------------------      ----------------
Information types   
   topic            topic.mod                topic.mod
   concept          concept.mod              concept.mod
   task             task.mod                 task.mod
   reference        reference.mod            reference.mod

   highlighting     highlight-domain.mod     highlight-domain.mod
   programming      programming-domain.mod   programming-domain.mod
   software         software-domain.mod      software-domain.mod
   user interfaces  ui-domain.mod            ui-domain.mod

Document types
(integrate domains and information types)
   topics           topics.dtd               topic.xsd
   concepts         concept.dtd              concept.xsd
   tasks            tasks.dtd                tasks.xsd
   reference        reference.dtd            reference.xsd
   mixed            ditibase.dtd             ditabase.xsd

   base             map.dtd
   book-specialized book.dtd

Common modules
   metadata         meta_xml.mod             meta_xml.mod
   CALS tables      tbl_xml.mod              tbl_xml.mod
   standard XML attributes                   xml.xsd

Related documentation:

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See details in the news story: "OASIS Members Form New TC for the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA)." General references in "Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA)."

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