• Marianne Calilhanna

Top Considerations for DITA 2.0


DITA 2.0 is coming.


While we’ve heard the whispers for several years now, the specification truly is almost ready for public consumption. We do not know exactly when the spec will be released, but we do know DITA 2.0 will NOT be backwards compatible. What does DITA 2.0 mean for people who have already adopted DITA? What does DITA 2.0 mean for people who are considering DITA?


I asked my colleagues and fellow DITA experts here at DCL to tell me

  • what is in DITA 2.0 that people should understand

  • what is in DITA 2.0 that is an exciting and useful change

Following are some the items they deem important to know about DITA 2.0:

  1. DITA 2.0 will NOT be backwards compatible.

  2. While not backwards compatible, the OASIS DITA Technical Committee has spent their efforts to reduce unused features that were in DITA 1.3 rather than adding new ones to DITA 2.0. You can view the working draft of the DITA 2.0 proposal here.

  3. If you are using DITA 1.X and used @alt instead of <alt>, or @navtitle instead of <navtitle>, those attributes are not included in DITA 2.0. You will experience breakage in your content if you move forward to DITA 2.0 without updating.

  4. DITA 2.0 will no longer have <substeps>; instead, the <step> element will be used. The <step> element is for reusing steps and there will be a possibility of having more than two levels of steps. DITA 2.0 will also allow for <steps> to nest. Hazard statements are important for many people who adopt DITA. DITA 2.0 has redesigned the hazard statement to align with ANSI X535.6 and enables the use of multiple hazard symbols.

  5. Multimedia elements <audio> and <video> will be available with three sub-elements for controls. This is a critical update as audio and video use has increased.

  6. <include> will be included! This new element allows for the inclusion of code or text.

  7. As DITA adoption has grown over the years, we’ve learned a lot. DITA 2.0 will remove all deprecated items and generally clean house to improve the standard.

  8. Even when DITA 2.0 is official, it will still take a while (some estimates are a year) before the tools have integrated DITA 2.0 into their systems.

  9. If your organization is considering DITA, you need not wait for DITA 2.0. A move to structured authoring and content management is worth the investment.

  10. Before moving to any structured content format, analyze your content collection to identify places where you can harmonize your content.

These are just a few of our favorite things around DITA 2.0. There’s a lot more to know, and Kristen James Eberlein (DITA solutions architect, Eberlein Consulting LLC Chair, OASIS DITA Technical Committee), along with the brilliant technical committee, has many resources to help you understand more about what’s coming to DITA 2.0. Click below to learn more.

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