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Subject: Re: DOCBOOK: New element for Step alternatives?

At 16:43 2002 09 19 +0900, Michael Smith wrote:

>I agree with that -- it does seem like "a step is a step", 

>Sabine - looking at all the examples you've given, it seems like they
>could actually all be marked up using existing elements and attributes,
>without the need to add a new wrapper ("Alternatives" or whatever), but
>by using the existing Substeps wrapper with an attribute to indicate the
>relationship between the set of steps it's being used to group.
>For example, to indicate that the reader is to make a choice among the
>steps in the set, you could use <substeps role="alternatives"> (though
>IMHO, <substeps role="choice"> might be better). And even though the
>default markup implies sequence or ordered steps, you could use a
>different value on the same attribute to make the relationship explicit
>-- <substeps role="sequence"> or <substeps role="ordered">.

Actually, I was thinking some more about this last night.
(I credit Richard Lander's comment during the telcon that finally
clicked in my head; Michael's comments above also support this.)

What we really should be doing is modeling choices and sequences
such as allowed in DTDs and Schemas.  Specifically, we should have 
some kind of "grouping" markup for a group of steps such that the group 
can be said to be either a sequence of steps or a choice of steps.

Consider the need to be able to markup something like:


--  First get a cup of coffee.

 *  If whatever isn't running:

     a. do this step,

     b. then do this other step,

     c. finally do this step.

 *  If whatever is running:

     a. do that step,

     b. then do the other step.

--  Now install the CD.

Note that you've got a sequence of 3 steps within the first
alternative and a sequence of 2 steps within the second

So I would suggest we should add a <sequence-group> element
and a <choice-group> (or <alternatives>) element, each of
which would contain two or more steps.  (Or we could add a
<step-group> element with an attribute that can be set to
either "choice" or "sequence".)  This would support Sabine's
user requirements as well as provide a solution for situations
such as the one I outline above.  And all with just two (or 1)
additional elements.


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