Syntax Highlighting with DITA

Syntax highlighting is something that I like in user documentation because I feel that it helps make source listings easier for people to understand.

When I first examined the possibilities several months back there did not appear to be a ready solution that worked with Ditac by XMLmind. Additionally the DITA specification does not seem to specify a standard technique for identifying the syntax used in code blocks. I had planned to integrate XSLTHL into my XHTML and XSL:FO stylesheets but I couldn’t really spare the time.

Fortunately it seems that XMLmind have themselves implemented syntax highlighting using XSLTHL. As a bonus they have implemented this for each of the supported deliverables and customizing the output styles and colours is super easy.

A good selection of syntaxes are supported which can be activated using the outputclass attribute.

<codeblock outputclass="language-csharp"><![CDATA[
public class SomeCoolClass {

    public void DoSomething() {
        Debug.WriteLine("Hello World!");


Here is an example from the Rotorz Tile System user guide: