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Subject: RE: [dita] Are indexterm ranges backwards incompatible?

I agree that it would be useful to have an index mechanism to identify that the discussion in one topic flows onto the next (and should ideally be represented as a page range). But in a single-source environment with re-usable content, that idealistic objective may not be practically possible. If you want to index at topic level, it doesn't seem to work. Indexing at map level probably means duplication of effort. Trying to include index ranges within the body that span topics starts getting scary quickly.  Maybe the problem is that we're applying a linear mindset to a non-linear paradigm.

Thinking laterally... just an idea... The primary purpose of presenting to the reader a range (pages 34-37) as opposed to a series of points (34,35,36,37) is to indicate the greater importance of the range. 34-37, in this case, tells the reader that this is a big block of content relating to the keyword. "This is probably where you should start looking", it says. By comparison, 34,35,36,37 hints to the reader that there are snippets of information on those four pages. If this hypothesis is correct, then 34-37 is a formatting convention. Expressing that semantically, the index markup should simply indicate the content's importance. This would mean the prolog index entry would be expressed as:
		<indexterm important="true">cheese</indexterm>
if the author wanted to indicate that this is a major discussion of the index term.

A DITA publishing tool may choose to provide the facility to output contiguous "important" indexes as a concatentated range (34-37), or perhaps in bold (as some "traditional" indexes do), or perhaps only indicate the first page number, or treat them like any other "point" index.

Would the above mean that there would be no need for the index-range element?

Hope this helps. (By the way, I have a style guide on my bookshelf which has a combined glossary and index!)

Tony Self


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