DITA Open Toolkit Project Management

The DITA Open Toolkit Project Management Guidelines are designed to provide information about how the project is managed. These guidelines are geared to an audience that needs information about how to participate in the development of DITA Open Toolkit (DITA-OT).

The project is managed similarly to commercial software-development projects; it uses requirements gathering, plan validation with stakeholders and contributors, scheduled activities, tests, reviews, and builds. Quality is strongly emphasized.

DITA Open Toolkit goals and objectives

The goal of the DITA Open Toolkit project is to provide a high-quality implementation for production-level output of DITA content, built in a professionally-managed project environment by vetted contributors, and tested thoroughly for each release.

DITA-OT is designed to meet the needs of users who want to publish DITA content, from individual users running the toolkit in a stand-alone mode to vendors who incorporate the toolkit into their software products.

The DITA-OT project keeps up to date with the latest DTD and Schema updates from the OASIS DITA Technical Committee (TC), which develops and maintains the DITA standard. As the DITA TC produces drafts of future versions, DITA-OT works to create early support for new features and helps to test the new draft versions of the standard.

The project agrees with the open-source motto of ”Release early and often” and seeks to develop wide consensus on issues.

DITA Open Toolkit development process

The DITA-OT development process is modeled after development processes for other popular and successful open-source projects, most notably Eclipse.

Project roles and responsibilities

The DITA-OT project has the following roles: Project manager, committer, and contributor. Each role has different rights and obligations.

Project manager (PM)

The project manager is responsible for managing the project. The PM provides leadership to guide the overall direction of the project and removes obstacles, solves problems, and resolves conflicts. The PM works to ensure that the following goals are met:

  • The project operates effectively.
  • All project plans, technical documents, and reports are publicly available.
  • The project operates using the open-source rules of engagement, which stress meritocracy, transparency, and open participation.
Committers oversee the quality and originality of all contributions. Committers influence the development of the project and have write access to the source-code repository. This position reflects a track record of high-quality contributions to the project.
Contributors contribute code, documentation, fixes, tests, or other work to the project. Contributors do not have write access to the source-code repository. There is no limit to the scope of such contributions, though contributors who expect to donate a large amount of new function to the project are encouraged to work with committers in advance.

DITA Open Toolkit release management

The DITA-OT project works with an agile development process; it releases test builds via a continuous integration process, and it encourages feedback on the test builds while features are being developed. Stable releases are typically issued approximately every six months.

Each iteration begins with a meeting of project contributors. The meeting minutes are stored on the project wiki and are available to the public. Active contributors are directly invited to these meetings, but anybody interested in DITA-OT development is welcome to attend. If you are interested in attending these meetings, join the DITA-OT team on Slack and request an invitation.

Each iteration kick-off meeting covers the following topics:

  • Issues from the previous iteration
  • Plans from each contributor for the upcoming iteration or for new work that will span multiple iterations
  • Design discussion for any significant planned features or fixes
  • Longer-term plans for contributions to the current or following release
  • (As needed) Other project issues or hot topics, such as changes to the test and build process, interest from new contributors, etc.

The kick-off meeting for the final iteration before a stable build covers the following topics:

  • Evaluation of what is allowed in the iteration; the final iteration typically has no major changes in order to assure quality in the stable build.
  • Assessment of whether all release notes and other artifacts are up-to-date and ready for a final build.

When a stable release is complete, the distribution build is uploaded to the GitHub releases page, and the dowload links on the project website are updated to reflect the latest release.

Feature requests and defect reports

Feature requests and defect reports can be submitted at any time through the project page at GitHub.

The core project contributors track and address bugs reported against the project; they issue patches based on urgency. The core contributors also will provide feedback on requests for new features or design changes, but they might not be able to provide development assistance.

All new bug reports or feature requests should be submitted through the DITA-OT issue and feature tracker on GitHub.

Feature requests

The project committers periodically review new feature requests with contributors and interested parties; when possible, they make plans to implement the new features.

If an existing project contributor is interested in a new request, the item is assigned to the contributor and implemented based on the contributor's schedule. Otherwise, if the request is valid and in line with project goals, it is left open for an interested party to pick up and implement. Some requests are best implemented as a plug-in rather than in the core DITA-OT code; in those cases, project committers suggest alternatives and close the request.

Defect reports

The project committers determine the owner of the relevant components and assign the defect to the component owner for validation and disposition. Responses, fixes, and workarounds are issued faster if the defect report includes sample files and clear instructions for reproducing the issue.

If bugs are found in the OASIS DITA DTDs or Schemas, they are fixed in the toolkit and reported to the OASIS DITA Technical Committee.