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Subject: RE: [dita] Two proposals for nested sections

The proposal I made was deliberately designed to support both cases.

I don't know how I can make my case for keeping topic at its defined size any stronger. I know you believe it should be company-specific, but DITA is designed to allow cross-company reuse, and part of the tradeoff of adopting a standard is agreeing on some common units. If we can't agree on the common units then we can't provide reuse.  I'm willing to define a new kind of unit to accomodate your needs, even though I disagree with your design choices. But I'm not willing to conflate that new kind of unit with topics, that have a more restrictive model that has already paid large dividends for us.

Michael Priestley
IBM DITA Architect
SWG Classification Schema PDT Lead

"Paul Prescod" <paul.prescod@blastradius.com>

11/07/2005 12:53 PM

Michael Priestley/Toronto/IBM@IBMCA
RE: [dita] Two proposals for nested sections

I think that Erik Hennum had a good idea when he said that there are two use cases:
1.        Creating content objects that are large and deep.
2.        Providing more flexibility for grouping elements in specialization (not larger content objects but small objects with more precisely articulated substructure).
Your proposal seems designed primarily for the first case. I'm happy to have support for that case but my immediately concern is more about the second one. I continue to feel that DITA specializers should decide what is a "topic" based upon their reuse analysis and not based on the rule that anything that contains sections must be made a topic just because that's what the framework forces them to do.

From: Michael Priestley [mailto:mpriestl@ca.ibm.com]
Monday, November 07, 2005 8:24 AM
Paul Prescod
Re: [dita] Two proposals for nested sections


Another alternative is to create an additional base type at the same level as topic that allows nested divisions. That way we don't affect the integrity of the topic architecture, but we give you the ability to design content with nested subheadings within the overall DITA architecture.

I'm thinking this would be conceptually something like an article or whitepaper - longer than a topic, may contain topics, but not in itself a topic. Note that we have been authoring articles in DITA just using nested topics (there are examples in the toolkit), and that will continue to be valid as well.


<article id="xyz">

      <title>A longer piece of content</title>

      <shortdesc>We still have the same general DITA structure of a title, shortdesc, and body</shortdesc>


              <p>But we have one very important difference: instead of sections, we have divisions, and we allow them to nest.</p>



                      <p>Divisions have a minimal structure consisting of an optional title followed by block-level content. They are not addressable directly by maps in the way articles or topics are, so in that respect they are more like sections, except that they nest.</p>

                      <topic id="abc">



                                      <p>We also allow topics to be authored inside the body of the article, or pulled in via conref, so that articles can still contain and reuse topics. So articles can still consume topics, even though topics (being smaller) cannot consume articles.</p>





      <related-links><link href=""somewhereelse.dita"/></related-links>
      <article id="nestedarticle">

              <title>A subarticle</title>

              <shortdesc>We could even allow articles to nest, after the body - keeping articles separate from articles in the same way we keep topics separate from topics, that is by separating their content into different bodies.</shortdesc>

              <articlebody><p>And so on...</p></articlebody>



Michael Priestley
IBM DITA Architect
SWG Classification Schema PDT Lead

"Paul Prescod" <paul.prescod@blastradius.com>

11/06/2005 08:51 PM

[dita] Two proposals for nested sections

Since your concern is preventing arbitrary nesting of narrative
documents, two solutions present themselves:

1. Limit the nesting levels to some agreeable level that is "enough
levels" to satisfy most customers wanting grouping and "not so many
levels" as to support arbitrary narrative. This is truly a compromise in
the sense that neither party walks away comfortable that their concerns
are addressed in the general case. This can be easily achieved in a DTD
with e.g. "subsection" and "subsubsection" elements.

2. Limit the nesting in the out-of-box DITA using formally declared
constraints or prose. In addition, provide a mechanism whereby a
knowledgable specializer can loosen the constraint for their
specialization (not, typically, to allow indefinite nesting, but rather
to allow the creation of grouping elements in the specialization). The
specification can outline the dangers of this loosening and the
situations under which we believe it is a good thing. If we can agree
that these specializers are (in general) knowledgable and trustworthy
then both parties achieve their goal.

Paul Prescod

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