Building output using the dita command

You can generate output using the dita command-line tool. Build parameters can be specified on the command line or with .properties files.


At the command-line prompt, enter the following command:
dita --input=input-file --format=format [options]


  • input-file is the DITA map or DITA file that you want to process.
  • format is the output format (transformation type). This argument corresponds to the common parameter transtype. Use the same values as for the transtype build parameter, for example html5 or pdf.

    You can create plug-ins to add new output formats; by default, the following values are available:
    • dita
    • eclipsehelp
    • html5
    • htmlhelp
    • markdown, markdown_gitbook, and markdown_github
    • pdf
    • xhtml
    See DITA-OT transformations (output formats) for sample command line syntax and more information on each transformation.
  • [options] include the following optional build parameters:
    Debug logging prints considerably more additional information. The debug log includes all information from the verbose log, plus details on Java classes, additional Ant properties and overrides, pre-processing filters, parameters, and stages, and the complete build sequence. Debug logging requires additional resources and can slow down the build process, so it should only be enabled when further details are required to diagnose problems.

    Specifies filter file(s) used to include, exclude, or flag content. Relative paths are resolved against the current directory and internally converted to absolute paths.


    To specify multiple filter files, use the system path separator character to delimit individual file paths (semicolon ‘;’ on Windows, and colon ‘:’ on macOS and Linux) and wrap the value in quotes:


    As of DITA-OT 3.6, the --filter option can also be passed multiple times:

    --filter=filter1.ditaval --filter=filter2.ditaval --filter=filter3.ditaval

    DITAVAL files are evaluated in the order specified, so conditions specified in the first file take precedence over matching conditions specified in later files, just as conditions at the start of a DITAVAL document take precedence over matching conditions later in the same document.

    Print a list of available arguments, options, and subcommands.
    -l file
    Write logging messages to a file.
    By default, DITA-OT prints certain log messages to the console in color. In terminal environments that do not support colored output, the ANSI color escape codes will be shown instead. To deactivate colored output, pass the --no-color option to the dita command, or set the TERM=dumb or NO_COLOR environment variables.
    -o dir

    Specifies the path of the output directory; the path can be absolute or relative to the current directory.

    This option corresponds to the common parameter output.dir.

    By default, the output is written to the out subdirectory of the current directory.

    Specify a value for a DITA-OT or Ant build parameter.
    The GNU-style --parameter=value form is only available for parameters that are configured in the plug-in configuration file; the Java-style -D form can also be used to specify additional non-configured parameters or set system properties.
    Parameters not implemented by the specified transformation type or referenced in a .properties file are ignored.
    If you are building in different environments where the location of the input files is not consistent, set args.input.dir with the dita command and reference its value with ${args.input.dir} in your .properties file.
    Use build parameters defined in the referenced .properties file.
    Build parameters specified on the command line override those set in the .properties file.
    Repeat the transformation N number of times.
    This option can be used by plug-in developers to measure performance. To run a conversion five times, for example, use --repeat=5. The duration of each execution will appear in the console when the final transformation is complete.
    $ dita --input=docsrc/samples/sequence.ditamap --format=html5 \
    1 11281ms
    2 4132ms
    3 3690ms
    4 4337ms
    5 3634ms
    -r file
    Specifies resource files.
    This argument corresponds to the common parameter args.resources.
    Resource files can be used to convert partial documentation sets by processing input with additional information.
    For example, to process a single topic file with a map that contains key definitions, use a command like this:
    dita --input=topic.dita --resource=keys.ditamap --format=html5
    To convert a chapter map to HTML5 and insert related links from relationship tables in a separate map, use:
    dita --input=chapter.ditamap --resource=reltables.ditamap --format=html5
    -t dir
    Specifies the location of the temporary directory.
    This option corresponds to the common parameter dita.temp.dir.
    The temporary directory is where DITA-OT writes intermediate files that are generated during the transformation process.
    Publish PDF output with a theme configuration file.
    For more information, see PDF themes.
    Verbose logging prints additional information to the console, including directory settings, effective values for Ant properties, input/output files, and informational messages to assist in troubleshooting.

If processing is successful, nothing is printed in the terminal window. The built output is written to the specified output directory (by default, in the out subdirectory of the current directory).


For example, from dita-ot-dir/docsrc/samples, run:

dita --input=sequence.ditamap --format=html5 \
     --output=output/sequence \
     --args.input.dir=/absolute/path/to/dita-ot-dir/docsrc/samples \

This builds sequence.ditamap to HTML5 output in output/sequence using the following additional parameters specified in the properties/ file:

# Directory that contains the custom .css file:
args.cssroot = ${args.input.dir}/css/

# Custom .css file used to style output:
args.css = style.css

# Copy the custom .css file to the output directory:
args.copycss = yes

# Location of the copied .css file relative to the output:
args.csspath = branding

# Generate a full navigation TOC in topic pages:
nav-toc = full

What to do next

Usually, you will want to specify a set of reusable build parameters in a .properties file.