Content Reuse and Single Sourcing: Open Standards vs. Proprietary Tools

DITA lets content authors reuse and rearrange content, as well as to publish it to a wide variety of formats.

At the same time, it’s not a secret that there’re many tools out there that offer very similar features. You can store your content in chunks, re-assemble these chunks as you need, and generate many different output formats. On top of this, some tools provide easy-to-use WYSIWYG editors (and some of them are even based on MS Word) that don’t enforce you to use restrictive content models or at least hide complexity of XML from you.

The only problem is these tools are using their own proprietary technologies rather than open standards like DITA. The question is: who cares?

Those content authors who create business documents (such as sales proposals, responses to RFPs, marketing collateral, contracts, etc.) don’t care if DITA or a proprietary technology stands behind all of this. Users have a goal which is to be able to create documents quickly and easily, and this is the only thing they care about. They don’t necessarily worried by the fact that they are locked into a specific proprietary tool. As long as this tool meets their needs, they won’t move away from this tool and consequently, don’t have to think about what’s happening behind the scenes.

So what do you think – what’s the advantage of using an open standard like DITA over proprietary vendor-specific technologies?

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