Introduction to the DITA Help Technologies Guide

This topic introduces the DITA™ Help Technologies Guide.

When DITA™ was first described to the world in the article Introduction to the Darwin Information Typing Architecture by Don Day, Michael Priestley, and Dave A. Schell, specific reference was made to Help in the opening definition: "and for using that content in delivery modes such as online help." DITA was designed with Help systems in mind.

Indeed, from the release of OASIS™ DITA 1.0, the DITA Open Toolkit has supported various forms of Help output. However, Help is a somewhat amorphous term; it means different things to different people. Early adopters of DITA found that while Help documents in common formats like Microsoft HTML Help, HTML and Eclipse™ Help could be created, some of the accustomed features were absent. Popups couldn't be easily implemented, window layouts couldn't be easily defined, and a tri-pane HTML output seemed impossible. Most importantly, context-sensitivity for most Help formats didn't seem to be supported.

The OASIS DITA Help Subcommittee was formed to address some of the perceived shortcomings of DITA for authoring Help content. The Subcommittee will recommend changes to the DITA standard to further improve functionality in time for DITA 1.3. In the interim, this DITA Help Technologies Guide provides explanations of the current best practice for using DITA for Help authoring, and makes practical recommendations that can be applied today.

Tony Self

HyperWrite Pty. Ltd.

Chairperson, OASIS DITA Help Subcommittee