To boldly go where no tech writer has gone before (one can dream, right?)

Learn DITA on Your Own

In a series of articles on the continuing growth in the use of DITA across the States, DITAWriter Keith Schengili-Roberts stated that “job postings seeking DITA experience continue to grow while FrameMaker usage continues to decline.” Clearly, knowing DITA can be a very important asset in a technical writer’s portfolio.

While at the STC Summit in Atlanta last spring, I met many writers who felt stuck in their careers and wanted to learn new technologies like DITA. But they couldn’t afford to take time out of their schedules to attend a two-day training course in another city and, understandably, their employers wouldn’t pay for training not applicable to their current roles.

But it is possible to learn DITA on your own, if you know where to start!

The Internet is full of resources that you can use to learn DITA independently, at a very low cost, and at your own pace. A few years ago I felt stuck in FrameMakerLand, and learning DITA made a huge difference in my career. I want to share my experience and provide fellow writers with the resources they need to get started with DITA on their own.

This is the first in a series of posts to help you learn about DITA. I plan to cover the following topics:

  • DITA 5-minute crash course
  • The World’s Smallest DITA Project: Go through the whole process of writing a topic, creating a map, and generating your output
    • Download and install a DITA editor
    • Download and install the DITA-OT
    • Create a topic
    • Create a map
    • Generate the map into PDF and HTML
  • Develop your knowledge:
    • Plan your training sessions
    • Pick a project
    • Get to work!
  • Get connected: pointers to DITA blogs, user groups, influential Twitter accounts
  • Prepare a portfolio to show potential employers
    • Make source files available in GitHub
    • Make output available on a blog

The information and the tools are out there, and you can learn DITA on your own if you know where to look. I’m hoping that this series of posts will make this process easier for you!

Coming next week: a DITA 5-minute crash course

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2 Responses to “Learn DITA on Your Own”

  1. Jeanne says:

    Wow, Nathalie, I can’t wait for the first installment. It’s so true: we’re so busy these days we don’t have time to take a course, particularly a 2- or 3-day course. Your series will make a big difference.

    Looking forward to the crash course.

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