Basic concepts

DITA has been designed to satisfy requirements for information typing, semantic markup, modularity, reuse, interchange, and production of different deliverable forms from a single source. These topics provide an overview of the key DITA features and facilities that serve to satisfy these requirements.

DITA topics
In DITA, a topic is the basic unit of authoring and reuse. All DITA topics have the same basic structure: a title and, optionally, a body of content. Topics can be generic or more specialized; specialized topics represent more specific information types or semantic roles, for example, <concept>, <task>, <reference>, or <learningContent>. See DITA topics for more information.
DITA maps
DITA maps are documents that organize topics and other resources into structured collections of information. DITA maps specify hierarchy and the relationships among the topics; they also provide the context in which keys are defined and resolved. DITA maps should have .ditamap file extensions. See DITA maps for more information.
Information typing
Information typing is the practice of identifying types of topics, such as concept, reference, and task, to clearly distinguish between different types of information. Topics that answer different reader questions (How ...? What is ...?) can be categorized with different information types. The base information types provided by DITA specializations (i.e., technical content, machine industry, and learning and training) provide starter sets of information types that can be adopted immediately by many technical and business-related organizations. See Information typing for more information.
DITA linking
DITA depends heavily on links. The purposes for which it provides links include defining the content and organization of publication structures (DITA maps), topic-to-topic navigation links and cross references, and reuse of content by reference. All DITA links use the same addressing facilities, either URI-based addresses or DITA-specific indirect addresses using keys and key references. See DITA linking for more information.
DITA addressing
DITA provides a number of facilities for establishing relationships among DITA elements and between DITA elements and non-DITA resources. All DITA relationships use the same addressing facilities irrespective of the semantics of the relationship established. DITA addresses are either direct, URI-based addresses, or indirect key-based addresses. Within DITA documents, individual elements are addressed by unique IDs specified on the common @id attribute. DITA defines two fragment identifier syntaxes for addressing DITA elements, one for topics and elements within maps and one for non-topic elements within topics. See DITA addressing for more information.
Content reuse
The DITA @conref, @conkeyref, @conrefend, and related attributes provide a mechanism for reuse of content fragments within DITA topics or maps. See Content reuse for more information
Conditional processing
Attribute-based profiling, also known as conditional processing or applicability, is the use of classifying metadata that enables the filtering, flagging, searching, indexing, and other processing based on the association of an element with one or more values in a specific classification domain. See Conditional processing for more information.
A given DITA map or topic document is governed by a DITA document type that defines the set of structural modules (topic or map types), domain modules, and constraints modules that the map or topic can use. See Configuration for more information.
The specialization feature of DITA allows for the creation of new element types and attributes that are explicitly and formally derived from existing types. The resulting specialization allows for the blind interchange of all conforming DITA content and a minimum level of common processing for all DITA content. It also allows specialization-aware processors to add specialization-specific processing to existing base processing. See Specialization for more information.
Constraint modules define additional constraints for corresponding vocabulary modules in order to restrict content models or attribute lists for specific element types, remove extension elements from an integrated domain module, or replace base element types with domain-provided extension element types. Constraint modules do not and cannot change element semantics, only the details of how element types can be used in the context of a specific concrete document type. Because constraints can make optional elements required, documents that use the same vocabulary modules may still have incompatible constraints. Thus the use of constraints can affect the ability for content from one topic or map to be used directly in another topic or map. See Constraints for more information.

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OASIS DITA Version 1.2 -- OASIS Standard, 1 December 2010
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