One of the key questions for assessing DITA and DITA Open Toolkit is "What would it take to put together a DITA-based authoring and production system that would scale as my needs expand?" The answer depends on both your near-term goals as well as what you expect your ultimate system to look like. The information below lists and defines four "DITA maturity" levels: demo, pilot project, basic end-to-end system, and enterprise-level system, and the likely requirements for each.
The base components, which apply to all levels, include the following:
The base skills, which also apply to all levels, include the following:
Materials written and processed at a demo level simply provide a proof-of-concept, or a way to demonstrate the end-to-end authoring and production processes. Two sets of such files (the garage sample and the grocery shopping sample) are provided with the DITA Open Toolkit User Guide package.
Only the base components and skills are required, unless you want to demo in a publishing environment other than XHTML (which is the default and assumed publishing environment, unless otherwise indicated).
Pilot project (prototype) level
Basic end-to-end system level
Individuals and organizations working at this level need to create a more formal process, and plan for the acquisition of tools that will serve at this level and also at the enterprise level, if project plans extend that far. This level may require processing scripts (perhaps even with user interfaces for setting parameters and saving profiles) that link the components together and provide consistency for repeatable processing. Branding is a probably a factor important for the DITA output.
At this level, documentation is part of a formal product cycle. The information development process probably involves multiple people. Producing output may be a collaborative process between the information development and product development organizations. Writers are probably required to follow departmental style and production guidelines. Information being developed goes through at least an informal review process. Candidate output documents may need to be formally verified or tested before being released.
Enterprise system level
This level has specific support for enterprise business rules, for editor wizards and for what the DITA architecture calls the "delivery context" layer (for example, true book-like output or specific mapping methodologies). The content may be translated into one or more languages. The distribution or fulfillment process is complex. A customer feedback mechanism needs to be present.
There is a need for extensive record-keeping, including the analysis of metadata. Content terminology and topics may be shared among a number of organizations (for example, marketing, technical writing, and training). There may be coordinated or shared content among other internal product or component development groups, or even external groups like business partners.
Writers may be required to adhere to an organization-wide set of style and terminology guidelines. Content may be formally reviewed by a group of editors, according to a complex schedule. Verification and testing is probably done by a separate test organization.
Tools at this level could include a library system, a content management system, business analysis software, and a customer feedback mechanism or system.