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Subject: Attempt to summarize position on nested sections

Sorry for the delay on the response to this. 

I wouldn't agree with your characterization, exactly. There are a few
words that I think are overstated. First, we aren't really talking about
making _everything_ techncially available. We're talking about a
particular narrow issue of sections within sections. Sections within
paragraphs, within lists, etc. would still be disallowed.

Second, your second alternative conflates two ideas that I think are
separate. We all agree on the goal of keeping "semantically independent
topics separate." The question is whether specializers can be trusted to
define for themselves what is a semantically independent topic or
whether this decision will be forced upon them by baked-in limitations
of the framework.

Third, I disagree that "more topics" always equates with "better
usability". Consider the following topic:


Look at the second section, which has two sections itself. (let's put
aside the third section which is task-like)

In my opinion, this article has perfectly fine usability, and splitting
it into three or four topics would not improve it at all.

Fourth: DITA already allows topics nesting and therefore allows a whole
novel or website to be written in a single topic.

So I disagree that usability is an issue here at all. Rather, the issue
is about _re_usability. Michael feels that forcing people to put content
into sub-topics rather than sub-sections makes their information more
_re_usable. So, for example, he argues that the "resolution" section
should be its own topic in case it is reused anywhere. I agree to a
point: if an analysis undertaken by Microsoft suggests that "resolution
sections" are typically reused rather than authored for a specific
context then they should be topics (and content-managed objects or flat

On the other hand, if the analysis suggests that they are seldom or
never reused, then it would actually be incorrect and destructive to
model it as a topic: "just in case." If you do, you are polluting the
search-space for topics unnecessarily. You're also making your
processing much more complicated because you need to trick your DITA
implementation into giving section-like behaviour to a topic: "don't'
split this into a separate output file." "Don't use the authored title:
always use the title RESOLUION." 

My point is that one must make the topic-ness decision based upon
usability, content analysis and modelling, not based upon the fact that
the section happens to contain sub-sections. That is one of several
indicators that might _suggest_ that a section-like thing should be a
topic. But it doesn't _prove_ that a section-like thing should be a
topic. I think that this topic is one example where it is not.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: France Baril [mailto:France.Baril@ixiasoft.com] 
> Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2005 10:39 AM
> To: Paul Prescod; Michael Priestley
> Cc: dita@lists.oasis-open.org
> Subject: RE: [dita] Two proposals for nested sections
> Paul, Michael, would you please restate the problem as you 
> perceive it? 
> My perception is that we are discussing making everything 
> technically available vs following a topic-based philosophy 
> where a topic has the purpose of keeping semantically 
> independent topics separated in a structure that reinforces a 
> specific usability criteria about nesting.
> France

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