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Upcoming Dates

This class is scheduled on demand but we offer publicly available versions of this class that are separately focused on learning Arbortext Editor and DITA. See our Public Calendar for specific delivery dates.


In this multi-class series, we guide you from unstructured authoring through structured authoring in a generic architecture to reach a common proficiency with the tool. Instruction includes structured authoring, the DITA architecture, minimalism, topic-type recognition, reuse strategies, and re-authoring and optimizing free-form content into DITA structures. Instruction includes strategies for improving content for different audiences and learning types as well as optimizing content for specific information patterns. This course is a combination of lectures and discussion mixed with examples and hands-on exercises.

What is DITA ?

Short for "Darwin Information Typing Architecture," DITA is an IBM invention that the company contributed to the community under the auspices of OASIS. DITA is an architecture based on XML for publishing technical information, and you can think of DITA as having three distinctive characteristics:

  • DITA is a data model - In other words, DITA defines a DTD and an equivalent Schema that prescribe which tags you may use. What makes DITA unique is that you create your own tags using a mechanism called "specialization" that requires you to define new tags by basing them on existing tags.
  • DITA is a methodology for reuse - Unlike book-oriented approaches to data modeling, which lead authors to continue writing information in a monolithic form, DITA is a topic-based approach to authoring that leads authors to write small, standalone modules that can more readily be reused in multiple document types.
  • DITA is an information architecture - To communicate information with the greatest effectiveness and efficiency, DITA defines an approach to writing and presenting information that embodies decades of experience. DITA specifies that technical information be classified as a Concept, Task or Reference, which guides authors to write more specifically with the fewest possible words.

Why Arbortext & DITA?

As the first vendor to support DITA at IBM, the first vendor to support DITA editing, and the only vendor to participate as a founding member of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee, PTC has led the way for DITA adoption. DITA was developed on Arbortext.

Arbortext is an end-to-end product information delivery system that automates the authoring and publishing processes for the delivery of high quality, tailored product information in the form of operator manuals, service documentation, and eLearning courseware. The Arbortext product suite offers solutions at every stage of information development from defining, authoring, illustrating, to managing, and delivering content.

Course Details

How do you access the software?

You do not need to purchase Arbortext to attend this class, nor do you need to sign up for a free trial license. Students connect through a standard web browser to access a virtual desktop that already has the software installed.

Where is the class held?

We offer both public and private deliveries, either fully remote or in-person. Regardless of the delivery style, all workshops are led by a live, online expert instructor, making for a fully interactive and engaging experience. 

Virtual Public Deliveries are held online and, when you share your screen, it's just as if we're just like we're standing behind you and looking over your shoulder. All students can speak and hear each other and the instructor during lecture and hands-on lab exercises. The only difference between this class and in-person? No travel costs.

Private deliveries can be held on-site at your facility or at a location nearby. Contact a training advisor to discuss specific requirements.

DITA and XML Training Topics (36h)

Our training sessions are highly interactive and engaging. All sessions are designed to be hands-on using standard, out-of-the-box Arbortext Editor. Training includes a combination of the following topics. All training is done through hands-on exercises to increase adoption and solidify learning.

This 36-hour two-part course includes everything from the Arbortext for Authoring workshop and our DITA for Authoring Teams workshop.

Part 1: Arbortext Editor for Authoring (18h)

  • Structured data (history, industry standards, benefits, SGML vs XML)
  • XML core concepts (how it works, what it looks like), separation of content and formatting
  • Well-formed XML (valid vs well-formed, start/end tags, parent/child relationships)
  • Stylesheets (basics, supporting multiple stylesheets, output options)
  • Writer roles and responsibilities
  • Preparing your content (schema/DTD, elements/attributes, content)
  • Storing your content (content management basics)
  • Styling your content (raw content though 1+ stylesheet)
  • Creating your output (different stylesheets for different outputs)
  • Arbortext Editor-specific tasks (creating a new file, inserting elements, modifying attributes, inserting graphics and tables)

Part 2: DITA Authoring and Publishing (18h)

  • Introduction to DITA and the Arbortext DITA Application
  • Creating DITA Topics, Concepts, and Tasks
  • DITA Cross-References, Links, and Content References
  • DITA Maps and Relationship Tables
  • Conditional text to produce documents that meet the needs of individual readers (e.g., DITAVAL and profiling)
  • Reuse strategies for content within a deliverable, across deliverables, and across content sets (basic concepts, application and gotchas)
  • Collaboration, content management, shared authoring)
  • Localization strategies for content
  • Localization techniques for stylesheets
  • Resources and navigating the DITA Specification


JLS_Portrait100x100JANICE SUMMERS, Single-Sourcing Solutions, specializes in helping people who’ve only ever used unstructured desktop publishing applications learn structured authoring. She graduated with a degree in I/O Psychology from San Jose State University and finds that her background helps adult learners in mastering new material. In fact, she’s been successfully transitioning Word users to XML authoring since 2005 and hasn’t lost anyone yet! She's the author of “Arbortext for Authoring: An Author's Guide to Getting Started with Arbortext Editor” (available on Amazon).

Liz FraleyLIZ FRALEY, Single-Sourcing Solutions, is a long-time Arbortext user, customizer, stylesheet developer, and implementer. In addition to being a senior software architect, she is the founder of Single-Sourcing Solutions, a qualified, experienced trainer of Arbortext Products. She has over 25 years experience programming, teaching, and supporting knowledge growth in the communities she serves. She holds degrees in Computer Science and English from the University of Maryland College Park and a Masters in English from the University of Southern Mississippi. She's the author of “Arbortext 101: Best Practices for Configuring, Authoring, Styling, and Publishing with Arbortext,” available on Amazon, and has several more planned.

What attendees have said

I wanted to extend to you and Janice a huge thank you for all of your knowledge that you shared in the virtual training classes for us! Sure did learn a lot and you both did an excellent job. 

You are highly recommended by the techpubs team. Thank you!

Steve S.

Sr. Manager, Avionics company

I’m very pleased with how Liz led me through what I needed to get started. Having the opportunity with a very knowledgeable instructor is great. Training is focused on what I need versus a long training session on things that don’t apply to me or my task. Together we worked on my strengths and weaknesses and I got the exact training I needed.


Field Engineer, Engineering Company

Want to bring this workshop to your team?

A workshop doesn't have to be a generic training. You can get that in the eLearning library videos and a variety of books. Request a customized version our multi-day workshop that is specific to you and your unique business requirements, processes, and needs.

Key concepts

arbortext editor, dita, topic based writing, xml authoring

Filed under

Single-Sourcing Exclusive, Workshops