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Subject: User Feedback: Indexing Enhancement (ODF 1.2/ODF-Next?)

Subject: User Feedback - Indexing Enhancement (ODF 1.2/ODF-Next?)

Dear Committee Members,

OpenDocument Format (ODF) covers much of the basics and also offers
some desirable features, some significant issues remain.
In particular, the alphabetical index in the Open Document Text (ODT)
could go a lot further than it does.
I do not claim to provide comprehensive solutions because I have no
technical knowledge required. Nevertheless, I would like to bring to
your attention the following issues.

Indexing issues

1. There seems to be no provision for additional indices.
   Many documents have more than one alphabetical index: an index
   of subjects and an index of names, or an index of legal cases 
   or titles of works.

1.1. A quick idea.

     Allow use of text:index-name attribute [1] in alphabetical 
     index mark [2] and in the text:alphabetical-index-source
     element [3].
     Currently, the text:index-name attribute may only be used
     on user defined index.


<text:alphabetical-index-mark-start text:id="IMark148677712"
 text:index-name="Latin Works" />
Somnium Scipionis 
<text:alphabetical-index-mark-end text:id="IMark148677712" />

<text:alphabetical-index-source text:text:index-name="Latin Works"
 text:sort-algorithm="alphanumeric" fo:language="fr"


<text:alphabetical-index-mark text:index-name="Legal Cases"
 text:string-value="Arthur Andersen LLP v. Carlisle"
 text:key1="United States Supreme Court" />

<text:alphabetical-index-source text:text:index-name="Legal Cases"
 text:sort-algorithm="alphanumeric" fo:language="fr"

2. There seems to be no provision for "See" and "See also"
   cross-references. This omission could be rectified by borrowing the
   "See" and "See also" elements in DocBook [4]. Cross-references in
   DocBook must be associated with a regular index entry, but I think
   it is better not to include this feature for more flexibility.


   Buildings, private sector.......280-86
   Residences...............See Buildings

   Note that both "See" and "See also" cross-references are
   completely internal to the index, and as such do not have page
   And because they do not have page numbers, the index markers can
   be placed anywhere in the document.

3. The only method for creating a page-range is to concatenate a
   series of index markers. In practice, such a method is extremely
   tedious and makes the index almost impossible to edit. (DocBook 
   page-ranges are handled through either bookmarks or inserting 
   index elements at the beginning and end of the range [5])

4.1. ODF allows for different sorting by country, language and
     algorithm. However, ODF makes no distinction between
     word-by-word and letter-by-letter sorting.

4.2. ODF also lacks the ability to specify how specific index
     entries are sorted, although special provisions are made for
     sorting Asian languages phonetically.
     This also is an important feature for a correct sorting of
     numbers and special characters.

4.2.1. A quick idea.

       Creating new attributes:


       The new attributes are based on the attributes of phonetic
       reading [6] and they're sorted (if any) with the
       text:sort-algorithm attribute [7].
       The sort attributes are used to determine the sequence and
       grouping of entries in an index. If this attribute is not
       supplied, the textual content of the index mark is used for
       this purpose [8].


<text:alphabetical-index-mark-start text:id="IMark124826528"
 text:string-value-sort-as="pound sign" /> 
£(pound sign)
<text:alphabetical-index-mark-end text:id="IMark124826528" />


 text:string-value="Athens Olympic Games" text:key1="2004-Events"
 text:key1-sort-as="Two thousand and four-Events" />

5. Font handling can be an important issue for some index entries (or
   part thereof). Titles of books are usually printed in italics.
   Often the names of computer commands are shown in a mono-spaced
   Currently it is not possible to have more fonts within one index
   mark. Apparently, this is not possible as they are specified to
   behave like a uniformly attributes string.


a) They're common practices.
b) Alphabetical index marks are almost identical to the old
   OpenOffice.org XML format (STW) [9]. OpenOffice.org indexing tools
   has several limitations.
c) Office Open XML (OOXML) has these features (Interoperability).
d) Compliance with the standard ISO 999:1996 and any specific
   standards relevant to the region in which the document is to be 
e) Compliance with style manuals as e.g. The Chicago Manual of Style
   or The Oxford Guide to Style (This is also know as Hart's Rules).


The ability to specify the alphabetization for specific entries, and
-particularly- multiple indices in a document are, in my opinion,
easy to implement.
However, if one issue was to be given the highest priority, it would
be supporting "See" and "See also" cross-references. "See" and
"See also" cross-references are key structural components of an
effective index.

Yours faithfully,

François-Marie Léthel









[8] cf. DITA 1.1 Language Specification 

[9] cf. OpenOffice.org XML File Format 1.0 (Section 7.4.3)

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