Software Engineering


Technical Writing: How to Write Using DITA XML

How to Become a Modern and Successful Technical Writer Using DITA XML

4.08 (205 reviews)

Technical Writing: How to Write Using DITA XML


7.5 hours


Jun 2021

Last Update
Regular Price

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What you will learn

Learn to write using DITA XML topics and maps

Produce documentation deliverables using Oxygen Author tool

Reuse on maps level (mapref), topic level (topicref), topic element level (conref) and table rows (conref - conrefend)

Personalized user guides based on the same DITA content using profiling (conditioning) of content

Create interactive images and create image maps


Do you want to learn how to write structured documentation using DITA XML? If yes, I can help!

My name is Jordan Stanchev. I have built my career in the field of technical communications over the last 20 years.

Starting off as a Java developer, I have then become a senior technical writer and had built a career as a DITA information architect.

I have written thousands of pages of software documentation guides for administrators and for developers. The software products I have worked on are in the field of security, messaging services, and development infrastructure (such as GitHub and SAP NWDI).

Today, I am a part of the team that leads the development of DITA XML-based infrastructure projects. The technical writers' community we serve is more than 1000 authors. I also chair the experts' group of our nearly 300 people strong group of DITA information architects in a Fortune 500 company.  I constantly have to write software development specifications and project documentation, in addition to the user guides information I provide.

What can I say, I have vast experience to share in structured writing and information architecture using DITA XML. And this is what I focus on in this course.

Based on my experience, what I can tell you, is that a modern technical writer looking to build his or her career in the field of technical communications, knowing DITA XML simply is a must!

You wouldn't believe how often I hear back from my students how the knowledge from this course is what made the break-through in their DITA technical writer job interview and helped them advance their career!

To achieve the ultimate career goal, all you do need is to learn writing using DITA!

Knowledge of DITA is relevant for you if you are involved in any way with software documentation as a:

  • technical writer;

  • information architect;

  • people manager, managing technical writers in the team;

  • user experience designer;

  • business analyst;

  • project manager;

The course 'How to Write Using DITA XML" is designed for intermediate to advanced level technical writers who want to deep dive into the capabilities offered by DITA, create complex and personalized user guides and deliver this single-sourced output using the Oxygen Author tool into various delivery channels. 

It is based on the online DITA training I've been providing to my students.


It will take you around 7-8 hours from the start of this course just to go through this material! It comes with lots of various hands-on exercises, examples, and advice based on my practice.

I recommend that you take one section a day at most, to avoid being overwhelmed and manage to perform each exercise described.

The course further deep dive and elaborate the basic concepts and knowledge introduced with the course 'A Quick Start to Technical Writing with DITA' and then provides more advanced details and strategies such as reuse of content and personalization of content based on profiling strategy.


If you are looking for a quick start into DITA, consider the basic DITA course 'A Quick Start to Technical Writing with DITA', which is for technical communicators, that are not yet familiar with DITA.

What will you learn?

Section 1: Introduction

By the end of this section you will able to explain:

- What is DITA;

- What are the benefits of writing software documentation using DITA;

Just spelling out the benefits of writing in DITA takes a lot of time! There are so many reasons why DITA is getting more and more popular. Today you cannot be a modern technical writer if you do not know how to write software documentation using DITA XML! It's the de facto standard XML for writing! You must know and spell out the benefits of DITA, and be sure, on a job interview you will be asked why DITA is so important.

Just to name a few:

- Based on common information types.

- It implies strict rules for writing, no matter who the technical writer is!

- Content is modularized and reusable.

- Automatically generated various outputs from the same DITA source;

- Content can be personalized, and so on.

Section 2: Get Started with DITA

By the end of this section you will be able to:

- Apply the 5 steps for creating the content of a user guide;

- Explain what is a DITA map;

- Create the 3 most frequently used DITA topics types: Task, Concept, and Reference;

- Create DITA maps;

- Reference topics in a map to construct a deliverable (user guide) using Oxygen XML Author;

Writing in DITA is easy. Do not let the diversity in tags and the huge number of DITA capabilities confuse you.

All you need to write your first guide is a strategy (what you want to deliver) and a set of simple steps to follow to construct your guide (explained in this section of the course)!

Section 3: DITA Elements

By the end of this section you will be able to:

- Name the most commonly used DITA topic elements (DITA tags);

- Describe a strategy for using topic elements in the context of a specific topic;

- Open, search through and select the needed topic elements in a topic;

- Use the list of topic elements in the context of a Task topic;

DITA comes with a huge number of tags to use. With them comes great flexibility for writing content. But where do you start? And which elements are a "must-know" vs. "optional-to-know"? This is what you will learn in this section to get a steady start with your content.

Section 4: Reusing Content in DITA:

By the end of this section you will be able to:

- Describe the benefits of reuse;

- Reuse content on map level (mapref);

- Reuse content on topic level (topicref);

- Reuse content on a topic element level (conref);

- Reuse entire table rows (conref - conrefend);

Reuse of content on all these levels allows you to dramatically reduce the time you have to spend writing documentation. This is one of the most important benefits of DITA. 

Allow me to give you an example: you can use reuse on the topic element level to define the name of your software product as a reusable topic element. You then use this element across your entire document. Later on, when the product name changes, you update the value of the reusable topic element and it gets automatically updated in all occurrences in each and every document! Compare this to the time it takes you searching and replacing a product name in a Word document or Wiki pages!

Section 5: Profiling (conditioning) content in DITA:

By the end of this section you will be able to:

- Describe the benefits of using profiling in your content;

- Profile content on map level;

- Profile content on a topic level;

- Profile content on a topic element level;

- Profile table rows;

Today everyone talks about the personalization of the user experience with the software. How about personalization of the user experience with the software documentation? 

The profiling functionality allows you to personalize the content for your target audience, without disrupting the authoring process. The personalized end-user guide is automatically generated in the end, based on the rules set by the author. Something that is close to impossible for any non-structured way of writing content in DITA happens in few clicks!

Section 6: Information Architecture for Technical Communicators

By the end of this section you will be able to explain:

- What is information architecture?

- Who is an information architect?

- What to consider to become an efficient information architect?

As of this section, we are raising the stakes! This course is not only for people who want to learn to write in DITA but also for those of you who want to grow in their careers. What's the name of the next level in technical writing? It's called "information architecture". But what is information architecture? What are you supposed to start doing today, to become an information architect?

That is what is explained in this section. The information architects possess a higher level, broader and holistic view of the content creation process. You are no longer focused down on the neatly-greedy details of the single user guide. Instead, you look at the big picture, where and how your content is organized, and how it fits the end-to-end customer experience. 

In this section, you will learn the basics of information architecture, and open the gates to the next stage in your career as a technical writer.

Section 7: Information Architecture for DITA Authors

By the end of this section you will be able to explain:

- How to govern the usage of profiling values by technical writers in the scope of a dedicated DITA map

- What is DITA subject scheme maps

In this section, I am touching upon an aspect not realized by many technical writers. Usually, that is the difference between being a technical writer and being an information architect in DITA. I will explain how to use DITA to control how different authors can profile content in your map, reducing profiling mistakes and ensuring a better quality of the finally produced personalized documentation.

Section 8: How to Create Interactive Images in DITA:

By the end of this section you will be able to:

- Describe the rules for using images in technical writing;

- Name the tools to use for creating graphics;

- Explain what are interactive graphics  and image maps in DITA;

- Describe the benefits of using interactive graphics;  

- Create an image map for an image in your documentation;

Section 9: Linking Strategies

By the end of this section you will be able to:

- Manually create a link to a topic or a web page from a DITA source;

- Activate automatic link generation, using the collection-type attribute in DITA maps.

Here comes another great benefit of DITA - the possibility to automatically generate links to the underlying content, instead of wasting time creating (and correcting!) links one after the other. Once you put your content in the DITA map, you activate the automatic generation of links - and that's it - the links are there.

No more hassle around finding one topic and linking to it, and fixing the broken link - it all happens in a matter of minutes in the map set up.


Structured writing in DITA XML is an advanced discipline for technical writers. You can find many authors with decent language and writing skills. But you already know that technical writing is so much more than just written text with no spelling mistakes, isn't it?

If you need your technical writers to:

- Strictly follow your company or industry writing guidelines;

- Be able to spend less time on the maintenance of old documentation and spend more time on value-added activities for the customer;

- Offer information that can be reused on all levels - entire guides, chapters, topics, sentences, or even single words;

- Maintain a very high content quality standard  with no broken links and missing content;

- Produce as many different output formats as your customer needs - all from the same content

- Use metadata to classify the content that was written and offer it for automated forms of information consumption;

then most probably you are already evaluating DITA as an option for writing. 

DITA already offers all listed functionality and even more!

Being a technical writer who knows how to use DITA can open the doors for you to start a career in some of the greatest IT companies in the world!

Companies Using DITA

Here are just a couple of company names that write their documentation using DITA XML:

- Apple

- IBM (they invented DITA, after all!)

- Google

- VMware


and hundreds of other companies, many of which in the IT and software development industry!

What students are saying?

"I value the comprehensive training, challenging practice assignments, and a variety of techniques used to improve and inform my writing!"

- Devon Apple, Web Developer

"If you want to know how to write using DITA go and check this course! The lecturer provides great explanations and tutorials, which are really helpful in practice."

- Karina Delcheva, Technical Writer

"Very good and comprehensible introduction to the world of DITA and XML Author software. I would highly recommend this course for everyone who wishes to quickly understand the subject and start using it..."

- Boris, a University student

If you are looking for a way to advance in your career as a DITA technical writer, this in your course! I am sure that you've already seen just by searching Google, that a course like this costs way above 1000$ and takes at least a week of physical and/or online presence, travel expenses, and... usually does not even cover half of the material I present here! Thanks to Udemy's policy for delivering the best courses to as many people as possible, we've managed to reduce the cost to only 199$, only here on Udemy!

The course still comes with an interactive and community part - you will get access to a closed learning community on our JPDocu Learning Facebook page.

You will have the chance to get in contact directly with the trainer of this course and receive personalized feedback on questions you may have on using DITA.

You will get an invaluable certificate upon the successful completion of this course, that you can put on your CV, or share on Facebook and LinkedIn - do not underestimate the importance of this certificate - without it, you most probably will never make it on the shortlist for the job interview of your dream job!

And maybe the most important part, that will allow you not only to get to but also to break through a job interview - your own work that you can use to demonstrate what you have learned and how you applied DITA to produce documentation!

Enroll now and see how simple and beneficial technical writing with DITA XML can be!

P.S. If you are looking for a job as a technical writer in a software development company - check 2 things:

1. Are they writing software documentation using DITA XML?

2. Which tool are they using for writing?

Be prepared even before your job interview to showcase the DITA XML documentation you have written using Oxygen XML Author and prove how good you are in applying reuse strategies and advanced DITA techniques - profiling, automated linking, and image maps.

P.S.S. Do not forget that the course comes with a 30-day full refund policy - no questions asked!



How to Use This Course?

Slides Used in This Section

What is DITA?

Installing a Tool for Writing with DITA

Benefits of DITA

Get Started with DITA

Slides Used in This Section

Step 1: Choose Topic Type

Step 2: Create the Topic

Step 3: Reference the Topic in a DITA Map

Step 3: Demo

Step 4: Generate the Output

Step 4: Demo

Generated Output - Review of Possible Options

Using DITA Concept and Reference Topic Types

Demo: Creating and Referencing Concept and Reference Topics in a User Guide

Sample DITA Source Files

DITA Elements

Slides Used in This Section


Common Elements in Documentation Topics

Corresponding DITA Topic Elements

Exercise: Use Topic Elements in a Topic

How to Think About Topic Elements?

Using Topic Elements in a Task Topic

Let's Recap! Topic Elements in a Topic.

How to See Which Topic Element to Use in a Topic?

Tables and Table Elements

DITA Maps and DITA Map Elements

Demo: DITA Map Elements

Reusing Content in DITA

Slides Used in This Section

Benefits from Reuse in DITA

Reuse on Map Level (mapref)

A Hint on Using Maps for Organizing the Team Work

Reuse on Topic Level (topicref)

Reuse on Topic Level - Demo

Reuse on Topic Level - Exercise

Reuse on Topic Element Level (conref)

Reuse on Topic Element Level - Exercise

Reuse of Table Rows (conref - conrefend)

Profiling in DITA

Slides Used in This Section

Introduction to Profiling (Conditioning) in DITA XML

Overall Profiling Process

Preparing the Editor to Use Profiling

Preparing the Editor to Use Profiling - Continued

Profiling a Reference to a DITA Map (mapref)

Profiling a Reference to a DITA Topic (topicref)

Profiling on a Topic Element Level

Profiling Tables and Table Elements

Generate Profiled Output

Generate Profiled Output - Example

Information Architecture for Technical Communicators

Slides Used in This Section

Information Architecture in Technical Communications

Information Architecture Thinking Patter for Technical Writers

Applying Information Architecture Principles When Designing the Documentation


Information Architecture for DITA Authors

Slides Used in This Section

Information Architecture for DITA Authors

Benefits from Using a Taxonomy: Achieve a Common Understanding

Controlled Vocabularies, Aggregations, SEO

Develop the Correct Content for you DITA Subject Scheme Map

Tools for Designing a Taxonomy: xMind

Governance of Profiling Values using Subject Scheme Maps

How to Create Interactive Images in DITA

Slides Used in This Section

Introduction to Graphics


Why Using Graphics?

When to Use Graphics in Software Documentation?

Types of Graphics in Software Documentation

Accessibility of Graphics

Using Appropriate Colors


Remember the Style Guide!

Translation Aspects

Using Microsoft Power Point to Create a Graphic for Documentation - Part 1

Using Microsoft Power Point to Create a Graphic for Documentation - Part 2

Using Google Slides to Create a Graphic for Documentation

Other Tools to Create a Graphic for Documentation

What is Interactive Graphic? What is an Image Map?

What Will You Learn?

Step 1: Create the Infographic

Step 2: Download the infographic

Step 3: Reference the Graphic as an Image in a DITA Topic

Step 4: Create an Image Map and Define Linking Targets

Step 5: Generate Output with Interactive Graphic

Linking in DITA

Manual Linking Between Topics

Automated Linking Between Topics

Final Assignment

Students Example of a DITA Guide - Elian K.

Students Example of a DITA Guide - Devon


Phyllis14 September 2020

This is a prerecorded class that was originally presented in front of a live classroom. Exercises are relevant and useful. Instructor breaks down information into easily understood bits and also uses good analogies.

Hilde14 September 2020

Content is ok, the quality less. The training is a recording of a live training. The slides that are shown are not centered on the screen.

Ming28 July 2020

Jordan delivers his lessons with clarity and great demonstrations. He even takes the time to coach personally on problems that I have faced. This class is definitely worth attending.

Inés10 March 2020

I think it is great opportunity to learn about one of most used tools for my profession at a global level. I have been working as a technical writer using mainly Microsoft Word, too ancient for global positions.

Cinny26 November 2019

For a high level overview of what DITA and the related topics this course is good, but need more detailing for certain topics. Need to improve the quality of video

Pavan5 July 2019

Tutor skips the steps. like after step 1,2,3...suddenly 6. Eg: how to create profiling is covered, but how to add the option to use the profiles in transformation is not shown.

Aditya4 June 2019

Yes, good for someone like me who is new to technical writing. I am getting to learn things right from scratch.

Sofie31 May 2019

I would like to have seen an explanation of the different files that are created. I found it hard to understand which files are created at which steps. THis is important if you leave the training and re-enter at a later point. On the exercise with reusing table rows, I think there is an error in the slide. There are two <end/> lines. I don;t understand why. The topic ID and table ID were unclear. There is a slide but without explanation from the instructor. THank you.

Donna6 May 2019

The content was good, but it would have been nice to hear more about elements and tags. It was a big confusing the way some segments would end...almost as if it stopped in the middle. The bonus section was a repeat of the beginning, but the bonus section was better. The format changed in the middle which was also a bit odd.

Boris22 April 2019

Very good and comprehensible introduction to the world of DITA and XML Author software. I would highly recommend this course for everyone who wish to quickly understand the subject and start using it...

Karishma9 April 2019

I am really glad I took this course. I had zero knowledge of DITA, now that I have completed this course, I can easily write in DITA XML hassle-free. The course was extremely helpful for me, a beginner. It was explained in crisp details and I understood every bit of it. A big thanks to the host of this course.

Venugopal9 April 2019

The trainer makes effort to keep this course updated. Happy to busy any further courses from this trainer. Overall, the training is very good!

Karina28 February 2019

If you want to know how to write using DITA go and check this course! The lecturer provides great explanation and tutorials, which are really helpful in practice.

Felix26 February 2019

Still need to dig deeper to really give a more meaningful rating. Seems to be heading in the right direction so far, though.

Lisa11 February 2019

The information is helpful, but the slides go in and out of focus and there are WAY too many words on each slide at the beginning. The good news, however, is that after the initial background information, it is a hands-on course. I had a product and was making my own products by the end of the short course. Best $ I have spent on an Oxygen XML Author introduction using Dita.


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