The Most Popular DITA CMSes (Part 2)


In the first part of this series I looked at which DITA-capable CMSes are the most-widely used, and looked at some of the reasons for the relative popularity of these systems. In this article I look at the sizes of firms that are choosing DITA CMSes and which sectors they come from. It is clear to me that for many companies—especially the larger ones—the argument for moving to DITA from a Return on Investment basis just makes sense. The data also shows that there is a diverse market out there, as a wide range of company sectors are willing to buy DITA-capable CMSes.

Company Size and DITA CMS Usage
In the last article I mentioned that there is some under-representation of the newer and “up-and-coming” DITA-capable CMSes, as it is easier to get information from larger firms as to which CMSes they are using, choosing to go primarily with the products from SDL, Ixiasoft and Arbotext. What’s also clear is that while firms of all sizes are using DITA, larger companies clearly have deeper pockets—at least when it comes to buying a CMS for their DITA-based documentation team. If you think of “large” companies as consisting of over 1,000 employees, then they make up nearly three-quarters of all of the firms I have been able to track that have purchased a DITA-capable CMS:

Size of Companies Using DITA-capable CMSes
Size of Companies Using DITA-capable CMSes

There are a couple of interesting things I take from this: it makes a lot of sense for large firms to invest in tools and processes that will make their documentation more efficient to produce; flip that around and it also means that large firms are clearly convinced of the Return on Investment argument for DITA, otherwise they would not be buying the software tools to support it.

Does that mean that the ROI argument for migrating to DITA for smaller firms doesn’t make sense? While only a quarter of firms from 11-1,000 employees are known to have purchased DITA-capable CMSes, that is still a significant proportion. It may make more sense to buy a DITA CMS if you’re a big firm from an ROI perspective (larger savings on localization, consistent content and reused material), but those same things clearly still make sense for smaller firms. Add to that that I believe smaller firms are under-represented here due to the self-reporting bias that comes with larger firms. However you look at this though, it is clear to me that for large firms the ROI involved in moving to DITA has clearly been made.

Which Types of Companies are Using DITA CMSes?
Anyone who has been following my blog for a while we know that DITA adoption rates are highest in the sector where it all started: software. Here again they are the dominant player when it comes to firms that are buying DITA-capable CMSes, closely followed by the related Information Technology and Services sector. Here’s what this looks like:

Purchasers of DITA-capable CMSes by Sector
Purchasers of DITA-capable CMSes by Sector

Does this look familiar? It should. Compare the above chart to the one that follows (which I have previously published), which tracks DITA usage by company sector:

DITA Usage by Industry Sector (mid-2014)
DITA Usage by Industry Sector (mid-2014)

There’s more “detail” at the lower percentage points, but when you consider that the second chart is twice as large in terms the numbers, this tells me that the data I have managed to gather on DITA CMS usage is reliable. For the record, the company types covered in the “Other” section for the first graph (and much of the second) includes:

  • Automotive
  • Biotechnology
  • Broadcast Media
  • Consultancy
  • Consumer Goods
  • E-Learning
  • Industrial Automation
  • Insurance
  • Maritime
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Oil and Energy
  • Renewables and Environment
  • Research
  • Translation and Localization
  • Transportation
  • Wireless
  • Writing and Editing

So what does this mean for vendors? Several things:

  • The market for DITA CMSes is large and diverse (what vendor wouldn’t like that news?)
  • Large companies clearly understand the ROI argument for buying DITA CMSes
  • It seems likely that there is a largely untapped market for DITA CMSes in smaller firms (under 1,000 employees). Any firm that can deliver a feature-rich product at a reasonable price will find buyers.

What does this mean for would-be buyers of DITA-capable CMSes? I am hoping that the information in these articles can help you to convince whoever holds the purse-strings at your organization that many other firms—including your competitors—are convinced of the ROI that DITA can provide for a company that produces documentation to support their products. Knowing which DITA-capable CMSes are the most popular ought to give you some indication as to the robustness of a product and its feature set, and help winnow out lesser candidates. Having said that, don’t buy a DITA-capable CMS just because others are using it, but because it best fits your processes and budget! As one thoughtful commenter said: “this article organizes and demonstrate the players in the field and who you can investigate further for DITA CMS, if you happen to be in the market”. (Thank you Janice!)


"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:

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9 thoughts on “The Most Popular DITA CMSes (Part 2)

  1. Great information in both of these two articles. It can be frustrating for a technical communications professional to find truly unbiased and current information about CMS technology, so these two articles fill an important need.

    The one info gap I still see regarding CMS technologies is a qualitative assessment of CMS capabilities. There is so much contradictory information and marketing fluff on the different vendor websites that it’s hard for the information professional to know which CMS platform *truly* best supports content re-use, which are the most standards compliant, which truly deliver superior end-to-end performance times, which are truly the most extensible and scalable, etc., etc.

    Thanks for the interesting CMS articles. They are much appreciated!

  2. Nice series, Keith. I have to admit that I read it rather fast and didn’t see a mention of FileNet. Are any companies using it other than IBM?

    1. Short answer: no.

      Longer answer: no, but keep in mind that my survey only takes into account those who are publicly-acknowledging which DITA CCMS they are using. There *could* be a significant percentage of DITA-using firms that are using Filenet and are just keeping quiet about it, but the available evidence suggests that that is not the case.

      I am currently in the middle of doing a more comprehensive survey that will hopefully close in on a more definitive answer to this.

  3. Very interesting articles Keith. Have you considered trying to do the same for Translation Managemen Systems (TMSs), to see which ones are best at handling the hundreds of files that DITA XML creates?

    1. I’ve thought about tackling that, but that type of information seems to be a more closely-guarded secret than which DITA CCMS a firm is using. For every 20 or so firms that mention which CCMS they are using, I’d say that there would be one that would also mention which TMS (if any) they are using. So not likely to result in numbers that are useful I am afraid.

      People are more likely to talk about which XML editor they are using and am considering compiling a similar survey on the popularity of the major DITA XML editors.

      The one clear trend I can point to with regards DITA TMSes is that if a firm has chosen SDL’s LiveContent DITA CCMS it is highly likely that they are also using their translation software as well. I believe (but can’t prove at this point) that their TMS/localization services is often the “foot-in-the-door” for their DITA CCMS–which makes sense since the two are considered to be part of SDL’s suite of products. I should add that this is not always the case, as I can point to firms that are using SDL LiveContent that do not appear to be using their translation software, and vice versa.

      1. I don’t know why people would be shy about which TMS they are using. We used to use SDL-Trisoft (a.k.a. Infoshare, a.k.a. LiveContent Architect) + SDL-WorldServer. No idea about the foot in the door… the bridge too a while to be “fully “functional. We recently switched our TMS to XTM-Suite.
        So no you have a statistical point of 1 for starting a TMS evaluation 😉

        1. Thank you for the confirmed, single data point! 😉

          I’ll certainly keep an eye out for mentions of specific TMS being used by people using DITA.

          If you are up for an interview about your experiences with TMSes and DITA, I’d certainly be open to it.

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