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WordPress Tip: Merging Worlds: DITA and WordPress

Feb 8, 2009 • dita, web-design, wordpress

Sept 29, 2014 update: For an updated article on the topic of migrating DITA into WordPress, see Import DITA's XHTML Output into WordPress.

The DITA-to-WordPress importer tool allows you to import the XHTML output from the DITA Open Toolkit as pages into WordPress. This  importer (created by Mike Little, a brilliant developer who had a hand in creating WordPress itself) is available for download here, along with a sample XHTML output.

The DITA-to-WordPress tool fills a major gap with the existing DITA outputs. Currently, the DITA Open Toolkit doesn't have a webhelp output. The XHTML output provides an index of files in a left pane with the topics in the right, but it is so plain and unattractive that I can't imagine anyone actually using it.

With the DITA-to-WordPress importer, you can use WordPress as your online help format. This approach provides unique advantages over other help tools on the market.  Basically, WordPress taps into all the juicy features of Web 2.0 and gives you them for free.

For example, in your WordPress help, you can include the following:

  • Comments
  • Gravatars
  • Tag Clouds
  • Categories
  • Related Posts
  • Embedded flash (for screencasts or videocasts)
  • Blog integration
  • Calendar integration
  • Video players
  • Hundreds of attractive themes
  • Easy theme customization with CSS
  • RSS feeds and integration of RSS feeds
  • Better user tracking, such as Woopra
  • Better search engine optimization
  • AJAX
  • Tags
  • Image galleries

And hundreds of other features. For a list of the 4,000+ plugins WordPress provides, see the Plugin Directory. To browse hundreds of themes, see the Theme Directory.

Additionally, WordPress provides an attractive website format that can change the way users feel about help. The standard help file, such as a .chm or tripane webhelp, has lost much of its appeal with users. WordPress can rejuvenate your users' attitude about using help by providing a new, contemporary look.

I created a 5 minute demo of the DITA-to-WordPress importer. You can view the embedded version below or view the demo in a larger, clearer format here.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical communication — Swagger, agile, trends, learning, plain language, quick reference guides, tech comm careers, academics, and more. I'm interested in simplifying complexity, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture and findability, and more. If you're a technical writer of any kind (progressional, transitioning, student), be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.