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Subject: appropriateness of <dita> root element

I wanted to add a voice to the discussion towards the end of today's TC 
call about the effectiveness and appropriateness of the "ditabase" 
content model and approach to DITA adoption.

Organizations deploy DITA for a variety of reasons. This may or may not 
include a need for topic-level content reuse. Not every organization 
will benefit from all of the capabilities of DITA.

In deployments where topic-level content reuse was _not_ a driving 
factor, I've seen organizations struggle to map legacy content to DITA 
topic types, without a corresponding benefit. (Surely some benefit, but 
not clearly justified by the required effort to do so). I've also seen 
organizations compress migration time from years to months by mapping 
legacy content to the generic DITA "topic" type in nested structures.

I'm troubled by the characterization that file structures which contain 
multiple nested topics are "not much better than Word."  The ditabase 
structure allows organizations to achieve multi-channel publishing, 
metadata- and output-based content filtering, and slashing of 
localizations costs through automated publishing, while minimizing the 
pain of legacy migration. As a TC, I think we need to take care not to 
belittle or discourage these benefits or this approach to migration in 
particular circumstances. Otherwise, we risk sending the message 
(implicitly or explicitly) that DITA is not appropriate except when 
substantial topic-level reuse is a requirement.


Alan Houser, President
Group Wellesley, Inc.

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