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MadCap Flare vs. DITA

MadCap Flare Icon

Our detailed guide breaks down the key differences between MadCap Flare and the Darwin Information Technology Architecture (DITA) framework. Take a look at the comparison chart, as well as examples and additional resources on how to create modern online help and documentation with Flare.

This comparison has been prepared by MadCap Software. The statements and feature comparisons expressed in this document are based solely on MadCap Software’s evaluation and understanding of the DITA framework, reviews from customers and other information publicly available.

MadCap Flare vs Dita

MadCap Flare


Existing Content

Native import of Microsoft® Word, Adobe® RoboHelp®, Adobe® FrameMaker®, MadCap Doc-To-Help files, Author-it® projects, DITA, XHTML, HTML, CHM, and many more.

Costly and lengthy conversion process, often multiple tools and programming knowledge required to import legacy content.

Stand Alone
Authoring Solution

A complete solution – import content, edit, author and publish to multiple output types and formats from one tool.

DITA framework not optimized for presentation of content without complex transforms.

DITA is not a software application or tool, rather a technology invented and distributed by IBM. There are various tools designed to support the technology that is DITA, but that leaves the company using it to try and piece together an entire tool chain. An authoring tool/editor; A style sheet creator; A “processing” engine to run the transforms. Programmers on staff or hired as contractors to create the transforms, etc. Difficult to get technical support with various vendors and consultants.

Authoring Ease of Use

Easy to use visual editor that allows an author to see, or not see as much XML as needed.

Patented XML structure bars to give authors a view of the underlying XML structure, without complicating authoring environment with distracting XML tags.

Built-in separation of content and structure, with the ability to preview content with Built-in transforms applied.

Templates can be easily created so authors can get up and running quickly.

Restrictive topic types only out of the box, but DITA does support “specialization” which allows for custom topic types. However not all DITA tools support specialization.

Complex authoring environment populated with many distracting XML tags.

DITA framework not optimized for presentation of content without complex transforms.

Scalability for Any
Size Organization

Scalable and affordable for any sized team, from single authors, SMB, to F100 organizations.

Flexible licensing options.

Can be cost prohibitive for small to medium sized teams, and even some large teams.

Costly to maintain including training, ongoing consulting required for template redesign. Additional tooling required for complete end to end authoring and publishing.

Responsive Content Authoring

Core feature of Flare – ability to use Built-in responsive layouts for web, tablet, mobile, and flexibility to create new ones. Content can be laid out and previewed in any medium while authoring.

No such support – custom development.

Advanced Content Reuse

Snippet conditions to separate snippet content in multiple instances of a snippet within a topic.

Variables supported not only in topics, but in TOC files, Page Layouts, cross references, hyperlinks, and more.

DITA supports variables only in topics.

Integration with
Non-DITA Systems

Flare supports the publishing of combined content sets. Content from Word documents, HTML pages, DITA topics and FrameMaker® files can all be combined into a single cohesive deliverable.

All content must be in DITA format.

Multi-Channel Publishing

There are no limitations on the number or variations of the different targets available. Built-in skin and page layout editors allow for easy template customizations and corporate branding.

Extensive XML transform programming knowledge required to customize source into branded outputs.

Cost of Entry

$1,448 per license, with multiple license types to fit organization needs.

Live instructor-led training classes start at $599 per student.

Consulting and translation services available on a project or long-term basis.

Average starting investment for a small team is $50,000.

Additional costs for training and support (consultants).

Ongoing costs for customizations.

Implementation Time and Return on Investment

Average implementation is less than 30 days.

ROI can be realized in 4-6 weeks or less. ROI case studies can be found here.

Training and consulting available, but not required.

Average implementation time is 12-24 months.

Lengthy legacy content migration process.

Custom training and consulting often required for authors to benefit from transition efforts.

Custom programming and transforms required for customized outputs.

Average Release Cycle
and Updates

Agile release cycle provides major multiple updates each year.

New specifications and features are slow to evolve.

Average update to specification is every five years.

Project Templates and Customized Output

No development resources are needed to create stunning, fully integrated output from MadCap Flare.

Project Templates Include:

Modern Top Navigation*

  • Coronado
  • Girard
  • Sunset
  • Silverado
  • Torrey
  • Soledad
  • Ivanhoe
  • Balboa

Knowledge Base


  • Basic
  • Advanced

Print & Online

  • Basic
  • Advanced


  • 3-Fold
  • 4-Fold

Book & eBook

  • Basic
  • Advanced

Policies & Procedures

  • Basic
  • Advanced

User Guide

  • Basic
  • Advanced

Product Foldout

  • 3-Fold
  • 4-Fold
  • 5-Fold
  • 6-Fold
  • 12-Fold


*Additional download

For advanced users, our products adhere to open standards and formats, including XML, CSS, JavaScript and HTML5. Output can be customized and branded to match any website to create truly beautiful output types.

Customer Showcase Example

Additional Resources:

Case Study Icon

Case Study

CM Labs Simulations, Leading Provider of Simulation-Based Solutions, Replaces DITA-Based Software with MadCap Flare to Deliver Modern HTML5-Based Online Help

Our writers were amazed by how quick it was to make a build of the Help with Flare. It used to take us more than 15 minutes per build using the old DITA style. Now it takes just 2 minutes.

Vrej Hezaran
Technical Writer,
CM Labs Simulations

Presentation Icon

MadWorld 2017 Case Study Presentation

Choosing MadCap Flare Over DITA, But Getting the Best of Both Worlds
by Jayne Locke, Content Strategist, Digi International

In this presentation, learn how our harrowing 11th hour selection of MadCap Flare over the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) saved our company well over $100,000 a year. But even better, it helped us to ramp up very quickly and get the entire team using a consistent methodology that improved our content, our agility as a team, and our customer experience. Using MadCap Flare paired with source control enabled us to establish a mock content management system that provided most of what we would get by paying for a DITA CMS, but with fewer limitations and more room for creativity. Learn about the benefits we’ve experienced, as well as how we integrated the best aspects of DITA into our content development methodology.

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