CM Professionals founding director and all-around great guy Bob Doyle has a cute take on DITA in the current EContent Magazine newsletter. Bob makes a lot of very good points, and also offers perhaps the best plain-English explanation of DITA’s value to implementers I have read:
While it is doubtful that out of the box DITA will find widespread use without customization (called specialization in DITA speak), the ready-made generic topic, and three “information-typed” specializations called concept, task, and reference, will get documentation teams producing very quickly. These documents will also be easily exchangeable with others. Because specializations inherit (thus the Darwinian name) properties from the general topics, their default behaviors–like printing, conversion to PDF, or XHTML Web pages–will produce decent results when transformed by default DITA XSLT style sheets.
One detail deserves mention though in Bob’s writeup. He refers to a “rumor” that Adobe recently used DITA to produce documentation. We know this rumor to be true, and have written about how Adobe used DITA to produce localized documentation for the recent release of Creative Suite 2. And, to all of Bob’s positive points we can add this one–at least two major companies (Adobe and Autodesk) have already used DITA to produce major documentation releases. Interestlingly, both Adobe and Autodesk used the same core technology to work with DITA–FrameMaker on the authoring side and Idiom World Server for content management and localization.