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Subject: indexterm page ranges have come apart

I'm sorry, but it's been summer, and I haven't been paying close enough attention to the indexterm page range debate that started to heat up just before the 4th of July.

I've now reviewed that debate, and I can understand Chris's frustration: this issue seems to have come seriously unglued.

Worse, I find myself in disagreement with several TC consensuses that were made in mid July, I think in my absence - if not, then I was dozing.

While much of the debate has been technical, for me it comes down to the fundamental issue of whether support for page-ranged indexterms is compatible with two fundamental principles of DITA:
  • DITA is topic based
  • DITA encourages a minimalist approach to documentation
Both of these principles speak against supporting page-ranged indexterms at all. Topics should be short (minimalism) and independent (topic-based). How far do you need to read from a point-based indexterm, except to the end of the topic? And if you're ready to try using the device/software before you reach the end of the topic - well, more power to you. You can always come back and read some more.

Chris's references to the Chicago Manual of Style are symptomatic to me of what's wrong with this proposal. Its history is as a style guide for writers of academic books. Professors being longwinded and disorganized - I should know, I was one once - page ranges are appropriate in their indexes.

Like transitional text that would appear only in book-length output, which we earlier rejected, page-ranged indexterms are a throwback to the kind of books DITA was meant to move beyond.

I propose we drop them from 1.1, and keep them out of DITA for as long as we can.


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