DITA is an open source XML standard that enables semantic mark-up to add intelligence to your content. It is supported by a vibrant community.
DITA is not a "tool" per se; it's more of a shift in the way of managing, creating and delivering information. It is a non-proprietary way of tagging information so people and computers can deal with it in more efficient ways.
When your information is in an XML format, it is ready for the future. With DITA and the open toolkit, Karen puts your content into a topic-based, structured file using a single-source approach. Then all the customized output for your company and your needs is generated and delivered.
What does that mean?
Structured content means that your information takes on a predictable shape so readers can quickly find what's relevant to them and use the information effectively to do their job. By doing the analysis for the reader, Karen reduces the effort needed, thereby lowering the potential for frustration.
A single-source approach means that, wherever possible, content is reused, not re-written. That lends consistency to your message while reducing the maintenance effort.
Say your product instructions have a recommended way to access a commonly used part. Rather than rewriting that line of instruction in multiple how-to topics, the writer inserts a reference to the approved "one way" to access it. Each time access is required, the reader sees the same way to do it. That's consistency.
Then say your clever engineers replace that part with one that requires a different mode of access. To update the instructions, you revise the source content (the "one way") and regenerate the output document(s). The new information replaces the old wherever it appears. Much more efficient than a manual find-and-replace.
Customized output could mean a PDF with your company logos, your headers and footers, and your layout preferences. Or it could mean an HTML help 'site' for delivery with your software. Or an HTML page to post on your Intranet. Or an HTML part for inclusion on your website. Or all of that plus an e-book for your iPad. Best of all, your information could be delivered instantly in more than one of these methods. All from the same source.
Your information delivered just as you need it. Information that takes less effort to keep up to date - saving you time and money!