A Final DITA Tease from DITAToo on Legacy Content Conversion

DITAToo Legacy Conversion Responses

I’m sure that the phrase “DITA tease” is more commonly associated with the other famous DITA out there, but the people who make the DITAToo CMS have released what they promise is a final teaser ahead of an upcoming survey on how people convert legacy content to DITA.

When asked what tools people are using to convert their legacy content to DITA, here are the responses that DITAToo got back:

  • FrameMaker conversion tables: 37.2%
  • A home-grown tool: 37.2%
  • We don’t know. The service was (or is) provided by an external consultant as a “black box”: we just provided the legacy content and received DITA: 23.3%
  • Mif2Go: 25.6%
  • Stilo: 9.3%

Here’s what this looks like in a graph:

DITAToo Legacy Conversion Responses
DITAToo Legacy Conversion Responses

One of the key things I find interesting from these results is how many of the respondents are clearly working in FrameMaker prior to making the switch, since both the responses on “conversion tables” and Mif2Go rely upon it. Put the two together and that means that at least 62% of those tech doc groups who are converting to DITA are doing so from FrameMaker. I would bet that this is even higher, given what the answers for the “home-grown tool” question could include, but however you look at it, FrameMaker is clearly the starting point for the majority of those moving to DITA.

The real question at this point is: are people sticking with FrameMaker once legacy conversion is done, or are they moving on to something else (DITA-OT or a CMS)? Hopefully this is another answer that will emerge when the final results from the survey are released.

The other interesting outcome of these answers is that a lot of the content conversion work is being done by external consultants/services. Combining the results of the “Stilo/service is provided by an external consultant” answers and you get almost a third of all respondents relying on an outside agency to do the conversion work. To me this strongly hints that the volume of the conversion work that needs to be done is substantial, since you don’t call for an outside service to do their thing when only a small number of technical documents are involved. Conversion is one thing, and one can only hope that the technical writers who are receiving the converted content know what to do with it when they get it – which makes me wonder if there’s a pent-up demand for more DITA training services for example. This might explain the calls I am seeing elsewhere asking about DITA certification.

These are some of the intriguing implications from this latest teaser ahead of the final release of the survey results from DITAToo. The survey is still running, and if you have not already done so, please head there and relate your own experiences on DITA conversion.


"DITAWriter" is Keith Schengili-Roberts. I work for IXIASOFT as a DITA Specialist/Information Architect. And I like to write about DITA and the technical writing community. To get ahold of me you can email me at: keith@ditawriter.com.

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