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Subject: RE: [dita] weak/strong constraint proposal

Thanks Michael. I see the value in the proposal and I don’t have a specific objection to it, however to start the discussion I’ll recap a couple of things I’ve mentioned in off-list discussions and in a previous TC meeting:


1) Constraining a document will affect copy/paste as well as conref. If you constrain out <lq> elements, for example, you won’t be able to paste anything that contains a <lq> element and have it be valid. Depending on your authoring tool, it could mean not being able to paste that content at all unless you remove the <lq> element first.


If an organization’s goal is to simplify the user experience for authors (by presenting a smaller element list), but they don’t want to strictly disallow any structures, using constraints will be a problematic way to achieve their goal regardless of whether we adopt this proposal.


2) There are features on the DITA 1.3 list that I think are higher-priority than this proposal.


I’m open to being persuaded otherwise, but for now I think that we should focus on what is already in 1.2.

Happy Thanksgiving to the Canadians, by the way! I’ll be out of the office on Monday Oct 12.


Best regards,



Su-Laine Yeo
Interaction Design Specialist

JustSystems Canada, Inc.
Office: 778-327-6356






From: Michael Priestley [mailto:mpriestl@ca.ibm.com]
Sent: Friday, October 09, 2009 2:07 PM
To: dita@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: [dita] weak/strong constraint proposal


The following proposal is relative to the existing constraint design documented here:

I'm starting with the assumption that we would want the default or normal behavior to be weak constraints - so I'm proposing a notation to declare when a constraint should be respected/required for interoperability, and letting the default be to assume that the constraint is not required.


Proposed notation: optionally precede the normal constraint declaration with an "s" for strong.

s(topic hi-d basicHighlight-c)

This notation is parallel to the notation for attribute domains, where a leading "a" is used to identify the value as having special meaning.

Normally-declared constraints are to be ignored by conref processing, in order to ease sharing between groups that have implemented constraints primarily to enforce authoring guidelines, rather than for strict processing requirements.

If there is a processor or other strong dependency on a constraint being present, then the constraint can be declared in the document type with the prefix "s". The constraint should then be handled in exactly the way currently described in the existing design.


Let me know if this is enough - it's a fairly simple proposal, relative to the existing one :-) But if it would be useful for me to go in and edit the original, I can.

Michael Priestley, Senior Technical Staff Member (STSM)
Lead IBM DITA Architect

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