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Subject: Stage 2 proposal: remove xtrf / xtrc (rendered copy for discussion, source is in SVN)

DITA 2.0 proposed feature #46: Remove @xtrf and @xtrc

The @xtrf and @xtrc attributes were added in DITA 1.0 purely for processing purposes, to add a standard way for processors to store mid-conversion debug information while (in theory) retaining validity against an original DTD. This is a legacy concern outside the scope of the standard / outside of the usual interoperability concern; they should be removed as part of the effort to clean up DITA 2.0 and remove obsolete or unnecessary markup.

Date and version information
Date that this feature proposal was completed

Champion of the proposal Links to any previous versions of the proposal Links to e-mail discussion that resulted in new versions of the proposal Link to Github issue Original requirement or use case

The @xtrc and @xtrf attributes were added to all elements in DITA 1.0. They are entirely intended for processing purposes, with a DITA-OT style processing model in mind. Specifically, the expectations were that:

The DITA specification (in the last couple of releases) has moved away from adding functionality or markup based on what is done with processed DITA, in particular what might be done by one single processor but not others. Instead it uses DTD / RNG to place rules on the source, but once processors start working with it, something like storing debug information is completely up to the processor.

The standard cannot and should not try to design this aspect of any DITA implementation, particularly a feature like this that presents no interoperability concern. Based on item #3 above, even the implementations that resulted in these attributes consider them obsolete as part of the standard.

Use cases
The use cases for removing these are:

New terminology


Proposed solution

Remove the @xtrf and @xtrc declarations from grammar files and from the specification.

Who will benefit from this feature?

What is the expected benefit? How many people probably will make use of this feature? How much of a positive impact is expected for the users who will make use of the feature? Technical requirements
Removing elements or attributes Processing impact Overall usability Backwards compatibility
Was this change previously announced in an earlier version of DITA? Removing or renaming an attribute that was shipped in DITA 1.3? Removing or replacing a processing feature that was defined in DITA 1.3? Migration plan
For documents that may use the attributes: Might any existing processors or implementations need to change their expectations? Might any existing specialization or constraint modules need to be migrated? Costs
Maintainers of the grammar files Editors of the DITA specification: Vendors of tools: DITA community-at-large: Producing migration instructions or tools: Examples


If the attribute is used as intended, it will not exist in source files before or after migration.

If the attribute is used in some other way (not as defined in the spec), before/after migration examples will depend on that usage.


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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