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Subject: Which CALS Table model should we specify?

DITA currently borrows its table definition from the OASIS CALS table definition, mostly a subset (more restricted attribute value choices) of the Exchange Table Model. This model was designed for highest interoperability among vendors known to have CALS table support in the 1995 timeframe.

Has anything changed since then? Should DITA use the full CALS Table Model (http://www.oasis-open.org/specs/a502.htm or the interoperable subset, Exchange Table Model (http://www.oasis-open.org/specs/a503.htm)? Do we need to formally change anything about DITA's CALS table definition in the file, tbl_xml.mod?

Note that the DITA-specific content model for this table is based on the parameter entity %tblcell.cnt;, which is defined in the file topic.mod. Also, some DITA attributes were added to the table definition to support conref and conditional processing similar to other topic elements. These augment the base table model by adding DITA behaviors to the base table model, which still has the same features handled by all editors, such as spanning of rows and cells.

Also since 1995, enablement for accessibility has become even more critical. Has anything been done for the CALS table model to allow writers to indicate fully accessible HTML output? IBM uses special transforms to put some level of accessible functionality into their HTML output; has your company experienced similar issues with your CALS table content being output as either HTML or PDF? Did you solve the problem by extending the source table DTD for authors to manage the necessary level of accessibility, or by adding the accessibility features during transforms (as IBM did), or by other means?

Don Day <dond@us.ibm.com>
Chair, OASIS DITA Technical Committee
IBM Lead DITA Architect
11501 Burnet Rd., MS 9037D018, Austin TX 78758
Ph. 512-838-8550 (T/L 678-8550)

"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"
--T.S. Eliot

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