Choosing the Right Technology for DITA Transformations
I've been involved in processing XML for about 10 years. Most of that time the tool of choice for taking XML from one format (DITA, DocBook, RSS, etc.) and transforming it into another format has been XSLT.
Most of the XML transformations I've worked on involve leveraging an existing library such as the DITA open toolkit, or the DocBook stylesheets. The DocBook stylesheets are a suite of XSLT files that make it quite easy to build nice output in multiple formats (PDF, HTML, Microsoft Help), and support translating the content into multiple languages.
Some really bright folks have created some very powerful libraries with XSLT, that do make it much easier to work with DITA or DocBook and get output in multiple formats.
Anyone with the challenge of selecting a technology direction and strategy needs to consider several factors when making a decision. Here are factors I consider when making strategic technology decisions:
- Does the technology fit the problem?
- What is the learning curve for adopting the technology?
- How maintainable is the solution going to be?
- How flexible will the solution be?
- Is there a community of experts to help and to hire?
- Is there an exit strategy if the initial approach doesn't work out?
- How much effort and money are needed to get started and to grow?
XML gets very high marks for resilience, flexibility, and supportability, and usually, suitability.
In the area of Documentation and Learning, DITA and DocBook both allow companies to enrich content by embedding semantic intelligence in the text. An XML can allow the same content to be used in different contexts. DITA, an XML vocabulary and information architecture for documentation, also scores very high on these criteria.
What are your criteria? What else do you look at when selecting a technology for specific problem?
Next time: Ruby vs. XSLT for XML processing