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Subject: RE: [dita] RE: [dita-adoption] Re: [dita] who complains aboutcomplexity of DITA?

Hi all,


Excellent discussion, excellent video!


Our corporate slogan is the famous Leonardo da Vinci quote: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." He was not exactly talking about open XML standards, he was talking about art - but he was also talking about the fact that it took him a life-time of hard work to get even close to simplicity. Simplicity is something you have to work to achieve, sometimes very hard.


Think of a car, with automatic transmission. This is actually really complex and complicated:


Description: http://jnrtransmissions.com/images/Automatic_transmission_cut.jpg


However, most of us do not really care about this complexity, as long as all we have to deal with is this:


Description: http://thefuntimesguide.com/images/blogs/automatic_gear_shift.jpg


Simplicity is sophistication.


But back to the world of open XML standards. Here is an interesting observation:


The open XML standard with more users than any other XML standard is far more complex and complicated than DITA. The documentation of this particular XML standard takes 7,193 pages (and you actually have to add another couple of thousand pages to have the complete set) compared to the 1.236 pages of the DITA 1.2 standard: Approximately 5.8 times as complex - if number of pages is used as a proxy for measuring complexity. I have had the pleasure of working quite a bit with this standard - and believe me: Six times as complex as DITA is not far from being correct.


It is hard to get the exact number of people using this XML standard on a daily basis, to create content, review and comment content, edit and publish content - but the best guestimates that we have access to is approximately 300 million people.


How is this possible? We all know about the resistance you can run into, trying to implement any XML in an organization - so what is different about this particular standard since it has managed to become so extremely widespread?


The secret is: The tools used to work with this particular brand of XML are very mature: Only a few experts and a few developers will ever have to set eyes on the XML tags, 99% of the 300 million user does not even know they are creating sophisticated XML (with thousands of different tags and thousands of attributes), let alone ever see an XML tag. They just focus on writing and creating content.

That is exactly why it is so successful.


Please note: This complex standard is not DITA, and it does not in itself imply the all the benefits of DITA that we all want so badly!


So our conclusion is:


If DITA 1.2 appears to be extremely complex and complicated to some folks - it is because they are using immature tools.

Immature tools are tools that does not:

·         Hide complexity behind an easy-to-use interface (remember P-R-N-D…)

·         Hide the XML completely from the overwhelming number of users that do not know and do not even want to know what XML is

·         Make it possible for users to focus on doing what they are good at: Creating content, reviewing content, publishing content.


So if people are complaining about complexity, it means "BACK TO WORK" for those of us developing software tools for DITA…



Best Regards

Description: Description: DxNewLogoVerySmall DITA Exchange


Steffen Frederiksen

Chief Strategy Officer, Co-founder,

Katrinebjerg Science Park | Aabogade 15 | DK-8200 Aarhus N | DENMARK | Mobile: +45-5155-3005 | Fax: +45.6980.3578 | srf@dita-exchange.com| http://www.dita-exchange.com






·         The open XML standard discussed in the example above is ISO/IEC 29500:2008, better known as "Open XML"

·         The commonly used tools (with approximately 300 million users) are Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010

·         It should also be duly noted that Microsoft actually is supporting DITA - and votes "yes" for DITA 1.2.




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