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Subject: Potential stage 1 proposal, let steps element nest

Having just sent in regrets for next week, I'm going to stir the pot with a controversial idea.

I've been asking IBM authors what they want from DITA 2.0. One of the more common responses so far is "get rid of substeps" -- meaning, just let <steps> nest.

The reason we have <substeps> is so that task can enforce (what DITA 1.0 designers considered) good information design. That is: if you've got three levels of nesting, that's too much for a single task, and you should break the task apart. If <steps> nests, that allows task to have 3 or 5 or 20 levels of nesting, just as with <ol>.

I've heard several counter-arguments in the last few days:
- There is no semantic difference between step and substep, so it's frustrating to have two sets of elements
- It prevents copy/paste or drag/drop if you try to turn one into the other
- If a step in one task is reused as a substep in another, you cannot conref the whole step - instead you have to conref every child of the step
- The limitation isn't even effective, because people just put <ol> inside the substep's <info> element
- If an author / a team / a company want to limit nesting, there are other ways to do that, such as Schematron rules or build / formatting rules

Given the design history and potential migration cost, I didn't think the TC would look kindly upon this idea, but then the arguments started to pile up, and I wondered if the rest of you were hearing the same thing.

Curious as to your thoughts...


Robert D. Anderson
DITA-OT lead and Co-editor DITA 1.3 specification,
Digital Services Group

E-mail: robander@us.ibm.com
Digital Services Group
11501 BURNET RD,, TX, 78758-3400, AUSTIN, USA

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