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Challenges for Technical Writers

The biggest challenge for any technical writer who is moving to DITA is to change the way in which he or she looks at documentation. Because DITA topics are written in isolation, it can be difficult to see how they fit together. Writers have to move from viewing manuals and help files as monolithic documents with a beginning, a middle, and an end to visualizing documentation as structured chunks of information.

Getting to the point where DITA can be used effectively requires a lot of work—from learning DITA to choosing a DITA-enabled tool to converting your old documents to DITA. In the end, though, all the effort expended will be worthwhile. One of the biggest tasks is to assess the total cost of ownership (TCO) of DITA. In this case, TCO is the cost of owning and using software. It includes not only the initial cost of purchasing the necessary software, but the expense that will be incurred in maintaining the software and training staff to use it.

Of course, the advantages of DITA need to be weighed against any productivity lost while learning and adapting to DITA and the DITA way of doing things. However, the benefits of streamlining and efficiency that using DITA brings your organization will outweigh those costs in the long run.

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