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Subject: RE: [dita] What Is A Topic

I don't disagree with Eliot and Scott that the wording about
topics could perhaps be clarified a bit, though I consider
that mostly editorial and not a substantive issue in the spec.

I don't have much of an opinion about title-only topics or such.
It's difficult for the DTD to enforce good practice anyway, and
no matter how hard you try, a determined user will figure out
how to do something they probably shouldn't do.  (Your bullet,
your gun, your foot.)

I will say, though, that I have less sympathy with the legacy
conversion issue.  DTDs in general--and whole technologies like
DITA in particular--are designed to be optimized for a specific
set of requirements and expectations.  If a square peg doesn't 
fit into a round hole, you don't mess up the hole, you do something
about your peg or you look for something with square holes.

I don't know if DITA sections should be nestable (some in-house
Arbortext users did ask for this too, but again, I think they
were trying to figure out how to map DocBook into DITA), but I'm
pretty sure I don't want to be driving DITA design by considerations
of legacy conversion.

If you've got stuff tagged using another tag set/DTD, my first
question is why retag it?  What's wrong with the way it is now?

If there are really good reasons why it is actually worth the
effort to retag it using DITA, then by definition, there should
be good reasons to *rewrite* it in a topic oriented fashion rather
than trying to cram non-DITA-isms into the DITA mold.

Perhaps I'm over-reacting to the word "legacy", but I think we
need to consider extensions to DITA in light of actual topic
oriented related requirements rather than conversion issues.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Scott Hudson [mailto:scott.hudson@flatironssolutions.com] 
> Sent: Wednesday, 2006 December 20 18:03
> To: W. Eliot Kimber
> Cc: dita@lists.oasis-open.org
> Subject: Re: [dita] What Is A Topic
> I very much agree with Eliot, and have run into similar legacy 
> conversion issues.
> I do think we need to disallow title-only topics, but I think we may 
> need some other components that are smaller than topics. These 
> components could be used to better model "transitional text", 
> too. The 
> current hack to create transitional "topics" seems to defeat the 
> definition of the ability for topics to stand alone.
> Best regards,
> --Scott
> > 
> > At a minimum, I think the specification needs to be internally 
> > consistent on what the explicit and implied rules for 
> topics are. At the 
> > moment, the specifications and statements such as the 
> second one are 
> > inconsistent with the initial (and primary) definition of "topic".
> > 
> > Either we have to disallow title-only topics (which I don't 
> think we can 
> > do at this point since we have to be backward compatible 
> with 1.0) or we 
> > have to relax the initial definition to make it clear that 
> topics are 
> > not required to have bodies nor are they required to make 
> sense on their 
> > own, but can in fact be just titles.
> > 
> > Cheers,
> > 
> > Eliot
> > 

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