The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an open standard from OASIS, based on an XML architecture and dedicated to the authoring of technical documentation.
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It is designed to optimize the creation, reuse and delivery of modular content in any output format, whether it is printed or digital. It can be specialized, which means an information architect can create new domains or topic types that are specific to his industry for more accurate outputs.

Creating DITA content means splitting the content into reusable chunks of information. The Topic is the basic information unit, designed to be authored once and used many times, either within the same publication or throughout different documents (e.g. legal information which can be duplicated over an entire product range).

Smaller chunks of content, reusable content references or conrefs, can be created to increase even more the percentage of reused content and decrease localization costs.

Today DITA is adopted by a growing amount of Fortune 500 companies, as well as smaller companies like software editors, who leverage DITA to optimize their content management while reducing time-to-market and costs.

It’s vital to integrate localization into the DITA project, whether it is executed internally or with an LSP, even if you don’t implement everything at once.”
- Julian Murfitt, Mekon

Why the Localization step is critical

Many companies still produce content via MS Word, unstructured Framemaker, or other tools in which content is not separated from layout. Translating such documents can turn out to be challenging and the Localization Service Provider (LSP) charges a fee for desktop publishing manual steps, which increases the quote by 40% on average. DITA is XML, meaning the content is separated from layout, so these extra costs simply do not exist. The LSP sends back the translated content to be re-imported into the content management system and processed by stylesheets, and that’s it!

Not only DITA helps decrease costs related to localization, but thanks to its reuse mechanisms and to translation memories, it also limits the volume of content that needs to be translated over time.

Reducing localization costs is often used to help justify a switch to DITA, as content reuse and the removal of desktop publishing fees make translating content more efficient for DITA-using clients.”
- Keith Schengili-Roberts, Ixiasoft

How we manage DITA localization at WhP

WhP DITA Localization Workflow
Ideally the entire DITA project is exported from the CCMS. Using WhP’s translation memories and analysis tools, we only charge for localizing the new content and processing the files is free. Even if only a few segments have changed between two versions, WhP can process the whole DITA project without differenciating between what has changed and what hasn’t. Only the new content will be editable by the translator. The legacy content is readily available to give the translator more context and help him improve its quality and productivity.

Content is then reviewed internally and if requested, also reviewed by the customer’s “in-country” reviewer before the final delivery, to avoid files going back and forth, reducing time-to-market and ensuring rapid simship.

All the content is re-imported into the CCMS and can be published in any output format and in any available language.

“I have found that some LSPs (Language Service Providers) don’t know how to handle DITA properly. Just because they “know XML” doesn’t mean that they know how to best work with DITA-based content.”
- Keith Schengili-Roberts, Ixiasoft

How we differentiate ourselves from other LSPs

WhP has partnered with the leading DITA CCMS editors to optimize the integration and shorten the processing time.

WhP has in-house DITA experts who assist the customer during the localization phase. The experts also make sure the tools developed in-house are in line with the latest DITA releases and adapt perfectly with the customer’s DITA specialization.

DITA experts at WhP also ensure that issues are addressed rapidly. They can also work hand in hand with the customer to help them improving the way they produce content.

An LSP measured only a 55% match with the translation memory after the conversion of the source to DITA. I sent the file to a DITA translation expert, and he came back with a 95% match. On the basis of the 55%, they quoted 400% more for the translation. A lot of LSPs say they understand DITA, when actually they don’t.”
- JoAnn Hackos, Comtech

The next step

You have been assisted by DITA experts during the implementation of your CCMS and the creation of your source content, now call on WhP DITA experts to manage your translated content.

Not deployed DITA yet?  Anticipate the change and plan your localization strategy. The LinkedIn dedicated discussion group can be a good start.