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Subject: NBSP entity in topic.mod DTD file

In updating the DTDs for 1.2, I've been reminded again of these 3 peculiar
lines in topic.mod:
<!-- for use within the DTD and supported topics; these will NOT work
     outside of this DTD or dtds that specialize from it!          -->
<!ENTITY nbsp                   "&#xA0;"                             >

I know Yas Etessam questioned this back in October without an answer:

I do not know why this is present. I think it was a mistake - to me, the
comment implies that nbsp is useful for the DTD, but not usable outside of
topic.mod. In fact, it is not used anywhere in the DTD, and the declaration
makes it available to every DITA topic. This includes every specialization
as well (each one has to reference topic.mod).

Does anybody find this entity useful? Is it appropriate to deprecate it in
1.2? Even if it was a mistake, it is difficult to simply remove it, because
I know some editors happily convert the literal #xA0 character into an
entity without telling users. Those documents would run in to parsing
errors if we removed the declaration.

One suggestion that I've heard is to include 2 versions of topic.mod in our
DITA 1.2 distribution. One version does not declare NBSP but has everything
else. The other (deprecated) version simply declares nbsp and then imports
the new version. DTDs included with the package, as well as the default
catalog in the package, would refer to the deprecated version, but this
would allow other DTD owners to switch at any point.

Does anybody have an opinion on this?

Thanks -

Robert D Anderson
IBM Authoring Tools Development
Chief Architect, DITA Open Toolkit
(507) 253-8787, T/L 553-8787 (Good Monday & Thursday)

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