JoAnn Hackos, PhD
CIDM Director

OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), according to their Web site, OASIS is a “not-for-profit, international consortium that drives the development, convergence and adoption of e-business standards.” OASIS was originally formed to establish standards for SGML. It now supports standards for XML.

The well-known DocBook DTD is supported as a standard through OASIS.

A group of proposers, under the auspices of IBM and including CIDM, developed a proposal to form a Technical Committee to support DITA as an OASIS standard. The Technical Committee is now in its official format phase.

IBM developed DITA to provide a modular, topic-based architecture for technical publications. In fact, DITA has been widely adopted by IBM’s information developers worldwide for IBM technical publications. DITA provides both a DTD and an XML schema. As a standard, it is available to any organization that wants to develop modules of technical content.

The DITA architecture is based upon the topic, but it extends the topic to concepts, tasks, and reference information. Anyone can use this basic three-part structure to create their own DTD or schema by specializing the three modular structures to respond to their own information model. For example, by starting with the task DTD, a technical publications organization could create two specialized modular structures, one for hardware procedures and one for software.

We view DITA as a significant contribution to technical publications standards and an alternative starting point to DocBook. To help support the DITA standard, IBM has offered the reference manual and is preparing a user’s manual. Other proposers and anyone wishing to add to the standard can submit ideas and code to the Technical Committee.

If you wish to join the Technical Committee, consider doing so before the May 4 date of the first meeting.

Below is the official announcement from OASIS. It contains links to more DITA information on the XML Cover Pages.

A new OASIS technical committee is being formed. The OASIS Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) Technical Committee has been proposed by the following members of OASIS: Paul Grosso, Arbortext; Indi Liepa, Nokia; Eliot Kimber, Innodata-ISOGEN; Don Day, Michael Priestley, and Dave Schell, IBM; and France Baril, JoAnn Hackos, Debbie Aleyne Lapeyre, and Paul Antonov, Individual members.

The proposal for a new TC meets the requirements of the OASIS TC Process (see, and is appended to this message. The TC name, statement of purpose, scope, list of deliverables, audience, and language specified in the proposal will constitute the TC's charter. The TC Process allows these items to be clarified (revised); such clarifications (revisions), as well as submissions of technology for consideration by the TC and the beginning of technical discussions, may occur no sooner than the TC's first meeting.

As specified by the OASIS TC Process, the requirements for becoming a member of the TC at the first meeting are that you must 1) be an employee of an OASIS member organization or an Individual member of OASIS; 2) notify the TC chair of your intent to participate at least 15 days prior to the first meeting; and 3) attend the first meeting of the TC. For OASIS members, to register for the TC using the OASIS collaborative tools, go to the TC's public web page at and click on the button for "Join This TC" at the top of the page. You may add yourself to the roster of the TC either as a Prospective Member (if you intend to become a member of the TC) or an Observer. A notice will automatically be sent to the TC chair, which fulfills requirement #2 above.

OASIS members may also join the TC after the first meeting. Note that membership in OASIS TCs is by individual, and not by organization.

Non-OASIS members may read the TC's mail list archive, view the TC's web page, and send comments to the TC using a web form available on the TC's web page; click the "Send A Comment" button. The archives of the TC's mail list and public comments are visible at

Further information about the topic of this TC may be found on the Cover Pages under "Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA)" at

—Karl Best