The DITA Way of Generating AEM Pages

December 13, 2022 | Arya Sankari
The DITA Way of Generating AEM Pages

Adobe Experience Manager Guides (previously known as XML Documentation for AEM), is a powerful tool to handle DITA-based content authoring, page generation and delivery.

The DITA-based content can be published to the formats like AEM Sites, PDF, HTML5, EPUB, and custom output through DITA-OT. In this blog, we will briefly see how to generate DITA-based contents in AEM sites format , how we can customize the items in each step with usable techniques like element mapping, node flattening, node name sanitizing, output preset, metadata customization and bulk site generation, which can help site generation.

Custom DITA Element Mapping

DITA elements in the XML Documentation solution are mapped to their corresponding AEM components using the mappings defined in the file /libs/fmdita/config/elementmapping.xml. AEM Guides solution uses this mapping in workflows such as publishing and review to convert DITA elements to corresponding AEM components. 

Custom DITA element mapping can be configured by overriding elementmapping.xml from libs folder (/libs/fmdita/config/elementmapping.xml) to project folder in apps (/apps/<project-folder>/config/elementmapping.xml).

In the com.adobe.fmdita.config.ConfigManager OSGi configuration, update Override Element Mapping with the overlaid file path ( /apps/<project-folder>/config/elementmapping.xml). 

code block


DITA elements are mapped to the corresponding AEM components and the mappings are updated in /apps/fmdita/config/elementmapping.xml. The DITA element schema looks like this shown:

Locations of DITA Elements


The top-level node for each mapping element


The DITA element name


The class attribute of the target DITA element for which you are writing the component.


Mapped AEM component path


  • COMPOSITE: process child elements as well
  • STANDALONE: skip child elements – use while flattening


Used for mapping serialized DITA attributes and values to AEM nodes as property


Save serialized text content of a DITA element to a node property named propname_t.  Will be saved as Binary if length exceeds threshold.


Save serialized XML of this node to propname_x on the current node. This is an optimized property. Will be saved as Binary if length exceeds threshold.


<![CDATA[xpath expression string]]>

If an xpath element is provided in element mapping, then along with element name and class, xpath condition should also be satisfied.


Place for the dita element in the repo, under the head node vs under para node.

  • head: Under head node
  • para: Under paragraph node


HTML element to wrap the contents within


Class name to be given for the wrapping HTML element


Container node containing one or more <attribute> nodes

<attribute from=”attrname” to=”propname” ispath=”true|false” rel=”source|target” />

Maps any XML property to a node property

  • attrname: DITA element name
  • propname: AEM node property
  • ispath: if this is path, can be used to handle path resolution (true/false)
  • rel:
    • rel=”source” : value with respect to DITA source file, resolved and stored to propname
    • rel=”target” : value with respect to root publish location, resolved and stored to propname        


Whether to skip the creation of a node

After making changes to elementmapping.xml it is also required to edit/save the utils bundle or com.adobe.fmdita.config.ConfigManager configuration, as this step is necessary to clear the cache from earlier saved elementmapping.xml 

Configure flattening of AEM Node Structure

While generating AEM Site output, a node for every element in the topics is created and hence node structure can become too deep. Deeply nested node structure can have performance issues for larger sites. Flattening can be disabled in lower environments for troubleshooting purposes, while in production environments,  it is recommended to use flattening unless there is a requirement to create the deep node structure showing relevant properties.

To enable flattening, check the property flattening.enabled in the OSGi configuration com.adobe.dxml.flattening.FlatteningConfigurationService


For flattening at a node, add <flatten>true</flatten> in the corresponding ditaelement mapping. To exclude certain nodes from flattening, add the following property <preventancestorflattening>true/false</preventancestorflattening>

To flatten at p node, the mapping of element “p” can be updated like,


To flatten at “section” nodes but to prevent flattening at any “ol” node.


P Node Not Flattened


P Node Flattened 


In the AEM repository, nodes will be generated like in the below figure, with “section” nodes not having “ol” (section & section0) nodes flattened and the one with “ol” not flattened (section1).


Custom Design Template for Output Generation

Design templates are used by XML Documentation solution’s publishing subsystem while generating AEM Site output and they control the structure, look, and feel of the generated output pages.

Sanitize AEM Site Page Name

When generating AEM Site output, the file’s title or name can be used to generate the URLs. To configure the URL generation in AEM Site output, select the Use Title for AEM Site Page Names option on the com.adobe.fmdita.config.ConfigManager configuration. In case to generate output using the file names, then deselect this option. 


It is possible to define a list of valid special characters allowed in node names.  On the com.adobe.fmdita.common.SanitizeNodeNameImpl configuration, in the Disallowed Character Set for Publishing to AEM Sites property, ensure that the property is set to '<>`@$. We can add more special characters to this list, however, it must have these required special characters. 

It is also possible to configure the other properties such as Use Lower Case in filenames, Separator to handle invalid characters, and Maximum Number of Characters allowed in the filenames.


Custom Output Preset Configuration


In order to generate the outputs like AEM Sites and PDF, the output preset needs to be configured in Map Dashboard. Map Dashboard can be opened for a DITA map, by right clicking on the ellipsis and then on ‘Open Map Dashboard’.

By default, Output presets for AEM Site, PDF, HTML5, EPUB and CUSTOM output types exist in Global profile. Custom output presets can be configured either specific to a ditamap or in Global or folder profiles. In order to configure global or folder-specific output presets:

  1. Go to AEM Start page
  2. Tools -> XML Documentation -> Folder Profiles
  3. Select the Profile to configure
  4. Go to Output Presets Tab
  5. Create
  6. Apply Preset Changes

Once done, all the ditamaps’ Map Dashboard will be populated with a new custom Output Preset.


 A sample map dashboard for a ditamap will look like below:


Locations on Sample Map Dashboard

Output Type

AEM Sites (inorder to generate AEM Site page)

Site Name

This becomes the AEM Site page title for the landing page, if it is configured in the design template.

Destination Path

The content path in which Site page will be generated. This can be even mentioned using a combination of variables(${languagePath}), as for a single output preset, different ditmaps may generate site pages in different site content paths, where the value of the variable will be taken from metadata. 

Existing Output Pages

  • Overwrite Content: Do not delete the existing pages, just overwrite the content present in content and head node. If Overwrite Content is selected, the Delete Orphan Site Pages option appears and this can be selected to remove Orphan pages from the published AEM Site.
  • Delete and Create: Force delete existing pages and create pages newly

Clean DITA-OT Temporary Files

Selected by default. Removes DITA-OT temporary files.

Setting Name

The Output preset setting name to be displayed in map dashboard


The template design node path

Generate Separate PDF for Each Topic

By default a single PDF is generated for a ditamap including all referenced topics. If the “Generate separate PDF for each topic” option is checked, PDF for each topic in the DITA map is created separately. This is unselected by default.

Use Map Properties as Default

Unselected by default. If each topic page has its own properties, which needs to be generated on the output site as well, then unselect this option. If ditamap properties should be used across all child topics, then select this option.

Apply Conditions Using

If there are any conditions to be used while site generation, this option can be used. Conditions can be either added via the ‘Condition Presets’ tab or a DITAval file.


The metadata properties of the DITA file, which are supposed to be added as page properties during site generation, can be selected here.

Run Post Generation Workflow

Unselected by default. Select required workflow from dropdown, if needed.

Use Baselines

Unselected by default. Baseline feature allows you to create a version of your topics and assets that can then be used for publishing or translation.

Customizing AEM Site Page Metadata Properties

AEM Guides solution provides a way to pass custom metadata while publishing output. This can be done using the following steps:

  1. Custom metadata properties can be added using Metadata Schemas of Assets. 
  2. Overlay /libs/fmdita/config/metadataList as /apps/fmdita/config/metadataList
  3. Add the list of metadata properties to be used while site generation in the metadataList file separated by comma. "graphic"
  4. In the Map dashboard, go to the corresponding Output Preset
  5. In the Properties field, select the required properties from the dropdown


Once site generation is done, the properties in the metadataList will be created as page properties.

Bulk Site Generation



For generating site pages in bulk, Map Collections can be used. Output presets of ditamaps are added to a map collection and the output generation is triggered based on filtering. 

Multiple outputs from different Maps can be generated in bulk by creating map collections.

Map collection for the project can be created following the below steps:

  1. Go to AEM Start page -> Assets -> Map Collections
  2. Create map collection
  3. Give name based on map categorization
  4. Add maps to the collection and generate outputs as needed.

The filtering can be done based on file modification, Presets, and available languages in the map collection.

Once site generation is done, the site pages can be accessed just like from map dashboard or they can be accessed from AEM Sites.

AEM site generation from DITA-content can be done by configuring element mappings, output presets, and design templates. The process can be customized in each step as well as it can be made easy and efficient using techniques like flattening nodes, sanitizing page nodes, and bulk site generation as we have seen above. Utilize all these techniques to start using AEM guides to publish your DITA based content today!