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Subject: Re: [dita] index terms

Rob Frankland wrote:
> Just a word of caution here. There are a lot of groups that create
> printed docs in addition to electronic formats not because they want
> to, but because their customers demand it. These folks rightly see a
> good index as vital in the print documents because they see such a
> loss of linkage in print docs. The index entries under discussion
> here are important for just this reason.

Understood--I'm not saying that back-of-the-book indexes have no value, 
just that their value, in the context of DITA and its intended 
applications, is not as great as they might once have been.

My experience as professional technical writer and then technical 
documentation system implementor over the last 20 years is that, for 
technical documents, indexes simply don't get that much focus from 
authors. That is, regardless of the value they *might* have they tend to 
be a low priority for authoring. Doing good indexing is hard, time 
consuming, and tedious. Most writing groups simply don't have the skills 
or resources to do more than barely adequate indexes.

That leads me to the conclusion that, in the context of DITA, which is 
primarily intended to enable the electronic delivery of modular 
information, support for sophisticated indexing features should not get 
as high a priority as say, sophisticated linking or re-use facilities.

At the same time, there's nothing stopping any particular DITA user from 
defining and implementing their own indexing mechanism that satisfies 
their particular requirement. That is, if a DITA user has equally 
compelling requirements for sophisticated re-use and sophisticated 
indexing, they will have to step up to satisfying their additional 
indexing requirements on their own.

But again, we need to provide some basic, simple, indexing facilities 
simply to enable migration from traditional books to DITA for people who 
do do indexes today.



W. Eliot Kimber
Professional Services
Innodata Isogen
9390 Research Blvd, #410
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 372-8841


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