Hi Marcus,

I've enjoyed our exchange. The contrast between Micheal's and Eliot's 
opinions is fascinating, and insightful. Eliot has a long-standing 
reputation in the markup languages community, while Michael's reputation 
is solid as a designer of DITA and much of the underlying XSLT 
processing required to implement the DITA architecture.

Yet they disagree. To add yet another opinion to the mix, Tim Bray, a 
co-author of the XML recommendation, warns of the requisite effort and 
risks in designing any new substantial markup vocabulary, and advises 
readers to begin by evaluating the capabilities of the "big five" proven 
XML vocabularies (I would add DITA to his list).
http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2006/01/08/No-New-XML-Languages .

Why does Michael advocate using DITA out-of-the-box? I can't speak for 
him, but I suspect the answer lies at least partially in the size and 
structure of IBM's product development teams, which resemble 
small-to-medium software companies more than tightly-integrated members 
of a $150+ billion dollar enterprise.

I tend to agree with you and Eliot for XML implementations in which the 
business requirements mandate a substantially new vocabulary, and the 
budget supports the necessary development and implementation effort. 
However, many (especially smaller) organizations face business needs 
that can be met by subsetting DocBook or using DITA as-is or nearly so. 
In addition, these vocabularies provide the necessary processing 
toolkits for generating output. The latter can be a complex, costly 
effort that is often out-of-reach of smaller organizations who are 
evaluating a migration to XML-based publishing.

This range of needs and budgets reminds me of an exchange I had in the 
exhibit hall at last year's STC conference in Seattle. I approached one 
of the well-known content management vendors, and said "Do you have a 
solution in the mid-five figures [U.S. dollars]? If so, I could 
recommend it to many of my clients." He replied enthusiastically, "Yes, 
most of our implementations are in the half-million dollar range," then 
proceeded to rattle off several members of the Fortune 100. I listened 
politely before moving on to the next booth.


Marcus Carr wrote:
> Alan Houser wrote:
>> DITA architect Michael Priestley (a co-author of the 2001 paper you
>> cited) has more recently addressed the misconception that DITA is an
>> exchange format, not an authoring format 
>> (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dita-users/message/1081). My anecdotal
>> experience matches Michael's -- that about half of all
>> implementations use the DITA DTD "out of the box" for content
>> authoring.
> This showed up in a conference plug recently and I revisited the link 
> that Alan provided to Michael Priestly's posting. Out of interest, I 
> looked at the post to which Michael had replied, and found it was a 
> very good email from Eliot Kimber - one of the long-term industry 
> experts going well back into the SGML days. His explanation is far 
> better than mine was, but echoed much of the same sentiment. If you're 
> interested, have a look at 
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dita-users/message/1080.

Alan Houser, President
Group Wellesley, Inc.

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