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Contributed by: Radu Coravu

This small tutorial is based on a presentation called DITA Reuse Strategies I made at DITA Europe 2015. It's main purpose is to explore the numerous possibilities of reusing content within the DITA standard.

First of all I think the main reasons we want to reuse content in technical documentation are these ones:
  • Consistent explanations for the same situations.
  • Less content to translate.
  • Decreased time spent writing content.
  • Obtain different publications from common content.
I would like to start by saying that technical documentation writers have two very important roles:
  • Record knowledge about using tools and processes.
  • Spread knowledge to reach large audiences.
As a software engineer, having a product user's manual which is rich in examples and answers to frequently asked questions saves me time. Instead of individually explaining to end users various application behaviors I can give links to the manual or better yet our end users find that content by themselves. Because there are just not enough human resources in any company in order to individually help each end user.

We'll start with a top down approach to reuse. Complete small examples for most of the reuse situations described below can be found here: https://www.oxygenxml.com/forum/files/dita_reuse_strategies_samples.zip.