DITA and Help
We can use Help authoring tools (HAT) to provide Help for DITA Users. And we can use DITA to create Help files. How good is DITA as a HAT?
At this time, the DITA Open Toolkit is limited to Microsoft HTML Help for the web. And HTML Help is limited to Internet Explorer.
DITA OT can output JavaHelp and Eclipse Help.
Since DITA Users is entirely web-based, we wanted Help files that can play on the web, and on all browsers. MS HTML Help is not good enough. Moreover, we cannot generate MS HTML Help with our DITA Open Toolkit, since we are running on a Linux Apache server.
WebHelp versions from Adobe and Madcap are playable in all browsers. So we will work with Adobe and Madcap WebHelp until we can generate our own WebHelp from the DITA Open Toolkit.
Here's a comparison of the leading Help Authoring Tools with the current DITA Help capabilities.
We used Madcap Flare 2.5 to produce WebHelp files for DITA Users support:
See DITA Users Help
We have also created a DITA Infocenter using Eclipse Help that includes the DITA Language Specification, Architectural Specification, and OT User Guide in one searchable interface with TOC, Index, and Search.
Help authoring tools have always been topic-oriented. Their topics have generally been like DITA tasks, the steps needed to solve some problem. So DITA should be a fine authoring tool for Help.