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).
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
> 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
Alan Houser, President
Group Wellesley, Inc.