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Are you trying to decide whether to use DITA-XML or Docs as Code for your project? If so, you’re not alone. Many Project Managers, Technical writing teams are trying to determine which approach is right for their product or service documentation projects.
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of DITA-XML and Docs as Code and discuss the pros and cons of each. We’ll also look at how they compare in different scenarios, such as small teams and large teams.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the differences between DITA-XML and Docs as Code, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each. You’ll also know which approach is best for your project.
What is DITA-XML and Docs as Code?
DITA-XML (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) is a structured authoring method for creating, managing and publishing technical documents. It uses XML (Extensible Markup Language) to define document elements such as topics, maps, and relationships. DITA-XML is often used for technical documentation, as it allows for the reuse of content and makes it easy to update documents.
Docs as Code is a modern approach to document authoring that uses tools such as Markdown, version control (Git), and static site generators like Hugo, Hexo, and Gatsby. Instead of using traditional authoring tools like Microsoft Word, Technical Writers work in a code editor, use version control to track changes, and generate a website from the source code. This approach is becoming increasingly popular in technical writing as it makes it easier to collaborate and manage documentation.
Pros and Cons of DITA-XML and Docs as Code
|DITA-XML||It is a well-established standard for technical documentation and is widely used in the industry.||It can be challenging to learn and requires a steep learning curve.|
|It is well-suited for large documentation projects with multiple authors, as it allows for the reuse of content and makes it easy to update documents.||The XML syntax is verbose and can be difficult to read.|
|It is easy to integrate with content management systems (CMSs) and document assembly and composition (DAC) implementations.||It is unsuitable for small projects, as it requires a significant time to set up and configure.|
|Docs-as-code||It is easy to learn and requires minimal setup and configuration.||It is not suitable for large projects, as it does not allow the reuse of content.|
|It uses simple, readable text-based syntaxes such as Markdown and HTML.||It is not well-suited for CMSs and DAC implementations, as there is no single source for all content.|
|It is well-suited for small projects, as it requires minimal setup and configuration.||It is not well-suited for teams with multiple authors, as it does not have a built-in collaboration system.|
Tech Pub approach of DITA-XML and Docs as Code for small and large teams
|Tech pub Approach||DITA XML||Doc-as-Code|
|Small Teams||DITA-XML is schema-based content||Docs-as-code is tag-based content|
|DITA-XML is well-suited for small teams that need to produce large amounts of content.||Docs as Code is well-suited for a small team that needs to create smaller content sets or documents.|
|DITA-XML requires a steep learning curve and is not suitable for small projects.||Docs-as-code can be easily learned and implemented by developers and technical writers.|
|Large Teams||DITA-XML is the clear choice for large teams that need to produce large amounts of content.||Docs as Code is not suitable for large teams.|
|It is easy to publish content to different channels||It does not allow content reuse, which makes it difficult to manage the content.|
|DITA-XML can be difficult to implement as it requires DITA-trained technical writers||Docs as code is managed by developers.|
What is the Best Choice for Your Project?
When deciding between DITA-XML and Docs as Code, it is essential to consider the size of your project, the number of authors involved, and the type of implementation you are using.
For small firms and small projects, Docs as Code is the best choice as it is easy to learn and requires minimal setup and configuration. It also uses simple, readable text-based syntaxes such as Markdown and HTML, which makes it easier for developers and technical writers to collaborate.
For large firms and projects, DITA-XML is a clear choice. It is easy to integrate with CMSs and DAC implementations, which makes it easy to publish content to different channels. It also allows for the reuse of content, which makes it easier to update documents.
Best Practices for Authoring Documentation with XML, Markdown, and Other Tools
No matter which approaches you to choose, there are a few best practices you should follow when authoring documentation.
When using DITA-XML, it is important to use the proper XML syntax and adhere to the DITA standards. It is also important to use the right tools, such as a DITA-compliant XML editor, to ensure your documents are properly formatted.
When using Docs as Code, it is important to use version control (Git) to track changes, use simple, readable text-based syntaxes such as Markdown and HTML, and use static site generators (Gatsby) to generate a website from the source code.
It is also important to use CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery) to ensure that your documentation is up-to-date and changes are automatically deployed.
Choosing between DITA-XML and Docs as Code for your project can be a difficult decision. DITA-XML is well-suited for large projects and easily integrates with CMSs and DAC implementations. Docs as Code is well-suited for small projects and uses simple, readable text-based syntaxes such as Markdown and HTML.
When deciding between the two, it is important to consider the size of your project, the number of authors involved, and the type of implementation you are using.
If you’re still unsure which approach is right for your project, talk to our experts to understand the correct approach suited for your project.