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Subject: Re: Discussion item - do we still need itemgroup?

Robert, you raise an good point. This looks like another opportunity to simplify and clean up…. I’m inclined to go with <div> and kill <itemgroup>.



Gershon Joseph | Senior Information Architect | Precision Content 
Direct: +972 (54) 658-3887| Email: gershon@precisioncontent.com | www.precisioncontent.com


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From: dita@lists.oasis-open.org <dita@lists.oasis-open.org>
Date: Monday, 19 October 2020 at 18:21
To: dita@lists.oasis-open.org <dita@lists.oasis-open.org>
Subject: [dita] Discussion item - do we still need itemgroup?

The <itemgroup> element has been around since the beginning of DITA. It’s the basis for most of the elements inside of a task step (like stepxmp, tutorialinfo, etc). In the specification, we’ve always defined it in the “specialization elements” section – it’s intended for cases like the task step, where you want to subdivide a list. A special container was used because we needed exactly that container for task steps, and because at the time we didn’t want to have an arbitrary “div” container available everywhere. Since DITA 1.0, that <itemgroup> element has been available exclusively in list items and in <dd> elements.


In DITA 1.3 we added the <div> element. In the base vocabulary, it’s available anywhere that itemgroup can go. It has exactly the same content model, exactly the same set of attributes, and it’s ideal for specializations.


I was editing the <itemgroup> element reference topic this weekend and found it hard to come up with an example – I kept coming back to “Why wouldn’t I do this with <div>?”


Which got me wondering – is <itemgroup> needed anymore? What would we lose if we got rid of it?


  • I think everyone expects <div> to have formatting like it does in HTML (it’s a block). I’ve never been clear on formatting for <itemgroup>, and I’ve seen it formatted as both inline and as a block. So, for those who choose to format itemgroup as inline, they might end up with blocks.
  • In theory, you can create a domain specialization of itemgroup and it only shows up within list items + DD. That would require a lot of constraints if you used <div>. I’ve never had any reason to do this, and it seems unlikely to me.
  • The task specialization would require a change to @class values to base elements off of div. Because itemgroup and div have the same content models, everything else remains valid (no migration of source).
  • Anyone who has specialized list items as we’ve done in task would have to make the same update, but it should be similarly simple.


I’m curious what others think about this?




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