Using DreamWeaver templates, HTML generated from DITA sources can have its look and feel modified substantially — interactively, by a graphic designer by modifying CSS, along with the layout of “editable regions” and boilerplate. That styling does not need to be coded in the DITA toolkit, then, and does not need to be re-integrated into each subsequent release of the toolkit.
The RUDI production system for DITA is intended to make it easier to generate sophisticated HTML pages for DITA output. It includes:
- A better way to do XML transforms that combines the power of Ruby with the economy of XSL templates. (xml_transform.rb in the RuDi zip file.)
- A separation of look-and-feel design-time activities from production-system coding activities that allows designers to build and test using DreamWeaver templates, while the production system merges content into them with minimal transformations.
- The efficiency of dependency-driven builds. (Down the road a ways, but planned.)
This system does not replace the DITA Open Toolkit (DITA-OT), but rather augments it by adding post-processing steps that eliminate the need to customize the OT for HTML output (a fairly tricky process that needs to be re-integrated into each new release of the OT).
Instead, with this system:
- The DITA-OT generates standard, minimal HTML.
- XML transforms extract content from the generated HTML and merge into the appropriate locations of a DreamWeaver template.
Thereafter, if the look and feel of the template is modified in a DreamWeaver site, the change automatically affects all pages based on that template.
- For PDF customizations, you could either customize the DITA-OT or investigate tools that convert HTML pages into PDFs in the same way that HTML pages can be converted into context-sensitive help (using AirHelp, for example).
- Eventually, this system needs to integrated be integrated with Claude Vedovini’s open DITA Platform (aka “DITA open platform”), to create a system that allows for online editing of reusable DITA documents, in a way that makes it relatively easy to select from a set of pre-defined templates, customize them at will, and update pages efficiently as changes are made.