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Subject: RE: [dita] outputclass on map elements

I think that Erik’s point is that the values in the outputclass attribute should not (contrary to what the spec says) be treated as “CSS definitions.” Rather it should be a way of treating some elements special relative to others for any purpose. Ultimately it comes down to a question of philosophy. If one takes a strict schema-driven philosophy then all semantics should be captured in a centralized, schema-driven way. Outputclass anticipates that this might be impractical in some situations. For example the person might not have the correct skills, or permission to change the DTDs, or capacity to change the DTD in every relevant place (authoring tool, CMS, publishing tool) or … Sort of like processing instructions which are another workaround for people who don’t have total control of DTDs.


I see it as being a bit more helpful than harmful and tend to prefer to treat our users as responsible adults. But I’ve never needed outputclass myself nor advocated that a customer use it, except during a transition period from a loose document type to a strict one.


From: France Baril [mailto:France.Baril@ixiasoft.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 8:53 AM
To: dita@lists.oasis-open.org
Cc: Erik Hennum; Grosso, Paul
Subject: RE: [dita] outputclass on map elements


I'm with Paul on this, it makes me very nervous too, but not because it's HTML only.


My reason is that having CSS information in the content means that you can never redesign the HTML style completely or use CSS that don't have that class defined. I wonder if the proposal should not be to remove this attribute from topics instead of adding it to maps.


I'm aware this could cause issues with backward compatibity, but it could prevent other issues for users down the road.


Moreover, shouldn't most writers be completely ignorant of the CSS definitions?


France Baril

Documentation Architect/Architecte documentaire



tel.:         + 1 514 279-4942 (new extension number 350)

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Let's Talk XML



From: Erik Hennum [mailto:ehennum@us.ibm.com]
Sent: June 7, 2006 1:57 PM
To: Grosso, Paul
Cc: dita@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: RE: [dita] outputclass on map elements

Hi, Paul:

To clarify, the outputclass attribute is available on the topic elements in DITA 1.0. The attribute should have been provided on the DITA map elements as well -- hence the bug fix.

The outputclass attribute really fills a role similar to the DocBook role attribute. Where the output format has a concept of class or role (as with HTML), the outputclass can be copied into the output, but its primary purpose is to provide informal semantic extension rather than stuff names into the HTML class attribute.

The attribute could have a better name.

Erik Hennum

Inactive hide details for "Grosso, Paul" <pgrosso@ptc.com>"Grosso, Paul" <pgrosso@ptc.com>

"Grosso, Paul" <pgrosso@ptc.com>

06/07/2006 07:24 AM





RE: [dita] outputclass on map elements


It makes me nervous to embed HTML-only stuff in the DITA model.

How do you propose to treat this attribute for print/pdf output? How do you propose to write up this attribute in the spec in an output-independent fashion that still remains useful?


From: Erik Hennum [mailto:ehennum@us.ibm.com]
Tuesday, 2006 June 06 17:01
[dita] outputclass on map elements

Hi, Esteemed Technical Committee:

The 1.1 bug list (
http://wiki.oasis-open.org/dita/Bug_fixes_for_DITA_1%2e1#preview) has an item that never received final disposition -- adding the outputclass attribute to the map elements (<map>, <topicref>, <navref>, <anchor>, and <reltable>):


To recap, the outputclass attribute assigns an informal role to an element. As such, outputclass is quite useful for extending the semantic without formal specialization. For instance, you can use outputclass to mock up a specialization in the base document type or to create handles for custom processing. Typical output processing for HTML copies the outputclass into the class attribute so users can create custom CSS styling.

Currently, outputclass is only available on topic elements and not on map elements. As a result, you can't easily mock up a map specialization or provide handles for custom map processing.

The main implication of map outputclass for the base output processing would seem to be to collect the outputclass values for the topicref and provide them on the outermost wrapper of the HTML content for the topic. The latter enhancement would let users style a topic in CSS based on the role played by a topic within a map.

The outputclass attribute is close to being a universal attribute -- it applies to a similarly large list of elements and merits similar treatment. I'd like to request that we finalize this bug fix at the next meeting.


Erik Hennum

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