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Subject: RE: [dita] indexterm page ranges have come apart

Title: RE: [dita] indexterm page ranges have come apart

Contrary to your subject title, it is not only the page ranges issue that has "come apart". At this point in the subgroup's discussion, ALL indexing proposals -- see/see also, sort order, page ranges -- are back on the table. The old points of conflict are being revisited, and we are back to square one, questioning every proposal.

Indexing is a contentious issue. One of the original architects of DocBook once told me she was glad she did not have my task: it was just too ugly. The existing indexing proposals are a mix of hard-fought compromises that nobody involved was fully satisfied with. Now that the issue is reopened, all hell has broken loose again. That's natural for an issue with so many unsatisfied opinions.

It's probably not so much one issue that has "come unglued", but perhaps this TC's process. The votes to approve these proposals were unanimous. By contrast, we never voted to reopen any of indexing issues -- let alone ALL of them -- and never agreed on any kind of charter or limits. Yet right now, anything goes. That is what bothers me: nothing is binding, anything can be reopened at any time by anyone without a vote.

Some people here will be happy drop page ranges from the standard. That's easy enough to suggest. But I'd point out that we have not voted on that idea either.


-----Original Message-----
From: Dana Spradley [mailto:dana.spradley@oracle.com]
Sent: Thu 8/10/2006 1:09 PM
To: dita@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: [dita] 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

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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