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Re: [platform-help-dev] New proposals on the Help dev page

Hi, Dejan:

Reading the proposal, I'm wondering whether DITA XML would make a good source format for the Eclipse Welcome experience and Eclipse help.

The OASIS DITA Technical Committee (http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/dita) recently approved the DITA Sandard as a Committee Draft, but a lot of thought has preceded that approval (much of it captured in the XML Cover pages - http://xml.coverpages.org/dita.html).


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Some key characteristics of DITA XML:

* Topic architecture. DITA is designed for User Assistance. In particular, DITA supports an Information Architecture by defining topic types (starting with conceptual, reference, and task content), managing relationships between topics, enabling reuse, and so on.

* Extensiblity. DITA provides an ability to define new elements based on existing elements for more precise semantics and constraints (analgous to OO inheritance). You can add elements for new processing capabilities or new vocabulary domains (for instance, Retail, Life Sciences, and so on).


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For the specific features in the proposal:

* Pull inclusion for content fragments -- DITA already provides markup for this intent but with the added value for authors that the placeholder for the inclusion has the same element type as the target, which eliminates a set of potential errors when the include is resolved.

* Objects expanded by a content provider -- DITA provides an object element that could either be used as is or specialized to introduce a contentProvider element that indicates the special processing of these objects.

* Push inclusion through content extension points -- The external file could map a content fragment in a DITA topic to an identified locations within another DITA topic.


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Building a special solution on top of HTML modularization has the disadvantage that the additions are non-standard. Because no one else is using those additions, we would have to support the additions, a problem that gets worse the more features we add.

If instead, we use an extensible Open Standard, we leverage other contributions:

* DITA has a set of public transforms and CSS styles, which can be expected to grow.
* DITA has broad editor support including Epic, Syntex Serna, XMetal, XMLSpy, FrameMaker (via the framemaker-dita Yahoo user's group), and others.
* DITA has a basic set of specialized semantic vocabularies, which can be expected to grow.

As with all standards, if the initiatives that require topics unite behind the standard, we will end up with a more complete solution than if everyone goes their separate way.


What do you think?


Erik Hennum
ehennum@xxxxxxxxxx


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Subject

[platform-help-dev] New proposals on the Help dev page

Hello,

I added two new links to in the Help Development page for your perusal:

Eclipse Help enhancements:
http://dev.eclipse.org/viewcvs/index.cgi/%7Echeckout%7E/platform-help-home/proposals/helpview/index.htm

Welcome authoring in XHTML format (this is really Welcome but is
interesting because the technique used for Welcome authoring can be
extended to all Help content in order to provide for content reuse,
intra-topic extensions and dynamic content):
http://dev.eclipse.org/viewcvs/index.cgi/%7Echeckout%7E/platform-help-home/proposals/xhtml/index.htm

Regards,

Dejan Glozic, Ph.D.
Manager, Eclipse Development 1A
D1/R0Q/8200/MKM
IBM Canada Ltd.
Tel. 905 413-2745  T/L 969-2745
Fax. 905 413-4850

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