Article: Choosing an XML Schema

April 11, 2008

Scott Abel, who runs The Content Wrangler, a website that focuses on content management, has posted an article of mine titled, Choosing an XML Schema: Docbook or DITA.

The article talks about how to choose the right XML schema for your needs, and despite my DocBook bias, I think it gives a “fair and balanced” treatment of the subject. While you’re over at the site, you may want to consider joining The Content Wrangler Community, which calls itself, “The social network for content professionals.” It has subgroups for everything from Blogging to Wikis. Certainly worth checking out.



  1. Dick, thanks so much for the very informative article. We get many questions from clients and prospective clients, and it’s nice to have most of these answered in one place! I’ll definitely be using this article as recommended reading for techdoc folks!

  2. Given your disclosed “bias”, this is a well-balanced, even-handed discussion. Well done. Both standards have much to offer, and “religious” debates do little in the way of promoting either, and only confuse prospective adopters.

  3. Thanks for your excellent and helpful article on Content Wrangler. Interestingly, you do not mention localization in your comparison. That is, is either option (DITA or DocBook) superior if you are localizing your content to multiple languages? Thanks again!

  4. Michael,

    Thanks for the kind words. Regarding localization, I should have at least mentioned it. It turns out that both DITA and DocBook have the essential elements covered, including:

    – Unicode support
    – Support for multiple languages in one document (both use
    the lang or xml:lang attribute on pretty much any element).
    – Support for standard translations of generated text (i.e.,
    when the transforms insert the word “Chapter” in a chapter
    heading, that word will be translated based on the lang
    – Support for localized indexes.

    Overall, I think there’s no real difference in terms of base capabilities. I suspect the real determinant will be how well your translators can deal with the schema you choose, though any good translator ought to be able to handle either.

    Hope that helps

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