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Subject: Applicability of <linktitle>

In Robert's review of the alternative titles proposal, he pointed out something that I was entirely unaware of that throws a small wrench into the proposal that I'm going to need the committee's help resolving.

The proposal for alternate title improvements replaces <linktext> in maps with <linktitle>, which can be specified either in maps or topics, with the value from the topicref taking precedence over that in the topic when both are specified. Any <link> that does not specify an explicit <linktext> derives its text from the effective <linktitle> for the referenced topic, if any. If none is specified, the <title> of the topic should be used.

I thoughtÂthis behavior was essentially backwards-compatible with DITA 1.3, with the only differences being that the element is now <linktitle> instead of <linktext>, and it can exist at the topic level as well as in the topicref. To my shock and dismay, it is not; this represents a fairly substantial breaking change.

In DITA 1.3, the <linktext> element, when used in a map, only applies to related-links generated by the processor from a map's structure (parent/child/sibling) or relationship tables. All other links derive their text from the topic's <title> and ignore any <linktext> in topicrefs pointing to that topic. With the proposal as-is, output of existing maps will change, with <link> elements that used to display the topic's title now displaying its <linktitle> instead.

And I'm stumped. I think the behavior described by the proposal is better. I find it difficult to believe that authors expect different text to be used in related links depending on whether the link was generated by the processor or not. But it does beak backwards-compatibility with DITA 1.3 in a way I hadn't anticipated, an for which I can think of no reasonable remedy. (I can think of some unreasonable ones, like separate elements/@title-roles for generated vs. authored links, but I really don't want to go down that route.)

I'd like to discuss this at Tuesday's meeting.


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