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Supporting the DITA OT Project as a Commercial Company

5 Sep 2022
Read time: 12 minute(s)

This small article is about the relationship between our company, Syncro Soft (which produces the Oxygen XML tools), and the DITA Open Toolkit project.

As a commercial company using the DITA Open Toolkit in multiple projects, we try to base this relationship on:
  • Give and take
  • Respect
  • Growth
but as in any relationship, there is probably always room for improvement.

History and Context

We started integrating the DITA Open Toolkit into Oxygen about 14 years ago, some time around 2008 in Oxygen XML Editor version 10. The DITA Open Toolkit remains a very important part of the DITA editing and publishing solution provided by us.

Currently, we are using the DITA Open Toolkit publishing engine as a component in our Oxygen Publishing Engine in multiple projects:
  • Oxygen XML Editor
  • Oxygen XML Author
  • Oxygen XML Developer
  • Oxygen Publishing Engine
and there will probably be more to come in the future.

Implementing Plugins for the DITA Open Toolkit

During these years, we've implemented a number of commercial plugins for the DITA Open Toolkit, plugins bundled in the Oxygen Publishing Engine:
  • DITA to WebHelp
  • DITA to PDF-CSS
  • DITA to Zendesk
  • CodeBlock Syntax Highlight
We also created a considerable number of open-source DITA Open Toolkit plugins (about 23) available on the Oxygen GitHub organization, with some of the most popular ones being:
  • DITA Metrics Report
  • Export DITA Map
  • DITA Media Support
  • DITA PDF Track Changes
  • Embed PlantUML and Mermaid diagrams
  • Embed Latex Equations

These open-source plugins are useful both for their original purpose but also as sample plugins for people wanting to implement something similar. We try to maintain the open-source plugins (as time allows) and answer any questions related to them.

Helping with Publishing-related Questions

There are various channels where people ask questions about DITA OT publishing:
There are also Oxygen-specific channels:

As time allows, we may help people with DITA Open Toolkit-related questions on these channels. On the DITA Users List, I've written more than 1000 messages during these 14 years.

DITA Open Toolkit Publishing-related Articles

The Oxygen XML Blog has more than 20 DITA Open Toolkit publishing related articles.

Registering and Analyzing Issues, Opening Pull Requests

Our general procedure when encountering DITA Open Toolkit bugs is to open issues for them on the DITA Open Toolkit list, if possible find time to analyse the issues, then propose workarounds or fixes.

We are possibly the biggest contributor of bug and improvement requests to the DITA Open Toolkit. Most of these bugs and improvements are discovered by our end users and added by us on the DITA OT issues list. During these years we've opened more than 400 issues on the DITA Open Toolkit project.

In the last few years, we became a major contributor of pull requests that contain bug fixes (more than 70 contributed pull requests so far).

Contributing with Improvement Ideas to the DITA Open Toolkit Project

During these years, we were contributed improvement ideas to the DITA Open Toolkit and were involved in the process where they were implemented. Here are some of them:
  • The DITA Open Toolkit Project file.
  • Metadata to specify parameter names, descriptions, and default values in the plugin descriptor files.
  • Processing RelaxNG-based DITA Maps and topics.

Contributions to the DITA Open Toolkit Documentation

The DITA Open Toolkit documentation has relevant content for people who want to get started using and customizing the DITA Open Toolkit. We frequently help our users by giving them links to the DITA OT documentation.

When necessary, we contribute issues on the DITA Open Toolkit documentation issues list: https://github.com/dita-ot/docs.

The DITA Open Toolkit Day

We started hosting and sponsoring the DITA Open Toolkit Day about 8 years ago, back in 2014, as a way to bring the community of plugin/customization developers together with the main contributors to the DITA OT project. The DITA OT Day is also a means to celebrate the work of the main DITA OT contributors. Recordings for all videos from past DITA OT Day events can be found here: https://www.dita-ot.org/dev/topics/dita-ot-day-videos.html.