[Post 7 of DITA Loc Wire] To write content that is consistent as well as easy to reuse and maintain, technical writers should abide by the DITA authoring rules. Some of them belong to the information model, others to the style guide.

  • Terminology
  • Style
  • Conditionalizing
  • Naming conventions
  • Metadata
  • Links
  • Specialization or output classes
  • Glossary
  • Content re-use

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A review focuses on the rendered content, not on the application of the DITA authoring rules

Practically all DITA content publishers get their content reviewed by SMEs who check that the published content is accurate and complete. This review is frequently performed using an online collaborative process on a rendered output.
However, few publishers have implemented a review of how the content is actually created and whether it complies with the rules. It’s not for lack of tools, which are capable of running automated checks, from simple Schematron rules to more controlled environments. Another option is peer review, yet few have implemented it.

Peer code review is a standard practice in the software industry

By analogy in the software industry, in addition to extensive functional testing, every company runs technology-enabled peer code review. Wikipedia gives the following definition:

Code review (sometimes referred to as peer review) is a software quality assurance activity in which one or several humans check a program mainly by viewing and reading parts of its source code, (…)

Code reviews are usually performed to reach a combination of goals

– Better code quality: improve internal code quality and maintainability (readability, uniformity, understandability,(…)
– Learning/Knowledge transfer(…)
– Increase sense of mutual responsibility (…)
– Find better solutions (…)
– It seems that this could also apply to DITA content development.

Peer DITA review is an excellent way to enhance your content quality

We recommend setting a quality assurance process for DITA content that includes peer content review to enhance:

  • Style guides and terminology
  • Content consistency
  • Reuse
  • Content maintenance

Include your localization partner in the QA process

The peer review you carry out internally will have a positive impact on the quality of your localized content. Speaking of which, your localization vendor or translator delve into your DITA content in detail; their insights can be part of the peer review and contribute to improving your practices. If they never give you any feedback on your content, either your content is perfect (well done :-)), or you should question the expertise or professionalism of your localization vendor.