DITA is an architecture for creating topic-oriented, information-typed content that can be reused and single-sourced in a variety of ways. It is also an architecture for creating new topic types and describing new information domains based on existing types and domains.
The process for creating new topic types and domains is called specialization. Specialization allows the creation of very specific, targeted document type definitions while still sharing common output transforms and design rules developed for more general types and domains, in much the same way that classes in an object-oriented system can inherit methods of ancestor classes.
DITA topics are XML conforming. As such, they are readily viewed, edited, and validated with standard XML tools, although some features such as content referencing and specialization may benefit from customized support.
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OASIS DITA Version 1.1 Architectural Specification -- OASIS Standard, 1 August 2007
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