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Subject: basic glossary in DITA 1.1

Hi, Esteemed DITA Committee:

Bruce, Jen, and I resolved our glossary disagreement last Thursday and would like to propose a simple approach for DITA 1.1 that will enable the book theme.

In the source, a very simple topic specialization defines the meaning of each glossary term. These glossary definition topics can be provided within a single ditabase file or provided in separate files for easier reuse. Here are two examples:

<glossentry id="ac-air">
<glossdef>Air conditioning</glossdef>

<glossentry id="ac-electric">
<glossdef>Alternating current</glossdef>

On output, the processing expectation is for the formatting process to collate based on the term and indent the definitions under the term as in the following example:

1. Air conditioning
2. Alternating current

One advantage of providing a separate topic for each definition is to enable reuse. Deliverables can assemble the glossary for a deliverable by selecting from a pool of available term definitions.

In addition, this approach is better suited for translation because the terms that are the same in one language may be different in another. By providing a separate topic for each definition, definitions can be collated differently based on the translated terms.

By putting each definition in a separate topic, we enable future binding of a mention or use of a glossary term with a sense definition by means of the DITA 1.2 key referencing mechanism. That is, a <term> element that delimits the first use of a term in a topic can be associated with the definition of the sense in which the term is used using the keyref attribute of the <term> instance and the key of the term definition topic. The DITA 1.2 keyword match proposal would also be useful. The benefit is that different senses of a term can be distinguished, making it possible to provide accurate popup definitions (for instance) in online formats. Also, with an unambiguous identification of the sense definition that is appropriate, an automated process could select the term definitions that apply to a deliverable.

Besides deferring to DITA 1.2 a better method for specifying mentions or uses of terms, the advanced terminology and semantic features proposed for the glossary definition topic should also be deferred.


Erik Hennum

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