March Meeting: Reporting on the State of DITA

The highlight of last night’s meeting of the PDX DITA User’s Group was Keith Schengili-Roberts’ presentation on The State of DITA 2015. Using the crude metric of “more people to feed at our meetings” over the last few years, we had observed that interest in DITA is growing, but Keith provided a more expansive view of the subject based on his research from the last decade. Here is a sampling of data-based observations drawn from his analysis of job postings, case studies, presentations, LinkedIn references and individual reports:

  • Many hundreds of companies worldwide use DITA, with a concentration in the United States and specifically in California.
  • Computer software might still be the largest individual industry using DITA, but a large array of industries outside software make up the lion’s share of users.
  • DITA is the dominant flavor of XML cited in technical writer job postings (DocBook appears rarely these days)
  • In United States job postings, demand for XML experience is trending up and demand for traditional tech writer tools that don’t require structured authoring is gradually trending down.
  • DITA experience is increasingly required or preferred in job descriptions.
  • Job postings asking for DITA expertise are offering higher starting salaries on average than job postings requiring FrameMaker expertise.

The Q&A covered DITA and aerospace standards, demand in the DITA-based CMS market, how review processes work in a DITA-based documentation organization, and how to get better PDFs out of DITA. And Mark Giffin, who called in from California (he is on the OASIS Lightweight DITA committee), alerted us to the existence of an open-source Markdown-to-DITA plugin. This should be of interest to DITA users who work with programmers who see DITA as an obstacle to collaboration.

Thanks to Keith for providing such a great and engaging talk! You can read more about Keith’s work at his blog, Ditawriter.com. Keith’s presentation was sponsored by Ixiasoft who happen to be his employer as well as a maker of DITA component content management systems. (Thanks to Leah d’Emilio for setting up the tech side and making sure everything went smoothly.)

We were especially pleased to see a handful of new DITA users turning up to explore and network: if you’ve been dithering about coming to a meetup because you’re not yet using DITA, please consider this an invitation to show up and find out more. Also, we discovered proudly that one of our regular attendees found a new job by networking at one of our meetings! We like to be socially useful as well as charming so this was very gratifying news. Maybe you will be next.

 

 

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About Marya DeVoto

Documentarian and tech pubs manager for hire; formerly Documentation Manager at Jive Software. Interested in practical and impractical information schemes, the social Internet, peace, love, understanding and dactylic hexameters.

2 thoughts on “March Meeting: Reporting on the State of DITA

  1. Just wanted to say “thank you” for having me present (albeit virtually) to the PDXDITA folks! Am glad the people there enjoyed the presentation, and was pleasantly surprised at the number and depth of the questions that got asked about the current state of DITA within the technical writing profession in the States. (Kudos also to my colleague Leah, who set things up and ensured that things went off without a hitch). We plan on making the talk available on YouTube sometime soon so that others can hear what was said.

    Am hoping to meet with some of your members in person at the Content Management Strategies/DITA North America 2015 conference coming up next month. I will be talking about how DITA is used in the Semiconductor and Medical Device sectors, and more generally on what I like to call “Extreme DITA”–in other words, interesting and non-typical ways in which DITA is being deployed.

    As I am sure you have discovered, I love the chance to talk about DITA XML, so if you are ever short of a speaker in the future, you know how to get in contact with me!

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