Task Topics: Step Introductions in DITA

Step Introductions in DITA

To do step introductions, you’ll need either of these elements: <context> or <stepsection>. The <context> element is an optional one nested in the <taskbody> element. The <taskbody> element is a container of the steps for the task at hand, much like the <conbody> element is a container for the content in a concept topic.

When the <shortdesc> element isn’t enough, you use the <context> element to add to what was said in the <shortdesc> element.

Think of it this way: The <shortdesc> gives a brief introduction to the task. It could be an overview of the procedure, requirements, benefits of the procedure, etc. The <context> element completes what was said in the <shortdesc> such as where and when to perform the task at hand.

Now, if you make the <context> information too long, you just need to create a separate concept topic and link that concept topic to your task topic.

In DITA 1.1, <context> is used for step introductions. An example of a step introduction is: “The steps to making a cup of coffee are:” and then you list the steps.

If you’re using DITA 1.2 or later, then you need to use the <stepsection> element to introduce steps. The <stepsection> element is nested inside the <steps> element and comes before <step>.

Here’s a breakdown of how these are nested:

<task>

<taskbody>

<steps>

<stepsection>

<step>

<cmd>

Whew…that’s all for now. Just thought I’d share what I learned today about DITA.