#271 allow <simpara> in <para>

closed-rejected
DocBook (176)
5
2014-10-26
2010-02-18
No

Use case: Authors frequently add visual structure to texts by adding an extra newline between two paragraphs. The logical meaning conveyed is that of a structure of a higher level (i.e. a sequence of closely related paragraphs). These higher structures are then separated by the extra new line.
One way to achieve the visual effect is by using <para> and the role attribute to distinguish between a "regular" paragraph and a paragraph with extra space-before. But this doesn't capture the logical structure of the text (i.e the sequence of paragraphs as a unit).
A structure that would capture the logic is:
<para><simpara>...</simpara><simpara>...</simpara><simpara>...</simpara></para>
<para><simpara>...</simpara><simpara>...</simpara><simpara>...</simpara></para>
etc.
But this is not allowed by the dtd. Considering the description of <para> in the definitive guide, it would be appropriate to allow <simpara> within <para>: <simpara> is not a "sectioning or higher-level structure", while "it is most logical ... to include block elements in the paragraphs...".
The processing of <simpara>s within <para>s should not pose any special problem since it is a "leaf" block; other allowed block elements (like lists) are much more complicated!

Discussion

  • Larry Rowland

    Larry Rowland - 2010-04-27

    Thank you for taking the time to submit this enhancement request.
    After due consideration, the TC has decided not to implement the
    change you requested.

    This request is similar to a previous request to allow multiple
    paras in a formalpara, which was also rejected. A significant
    problem with these requests is that of robustly representing the
    internal structure of the document to the reader (who generally is
    not looking at the source). Changes in inter-paragraph spacing fail
    if the paragraphs break across pages or become large enough that
    comparison of the spacings is difficult. Indentation fails along
    slightly different lines but also fails. This is part of why the
    DocBook TC has resisted calls for additional structural
    representations in DocBook that fall outside of the nested section
    model; titled sections provide obvious indications of the structure
    of a document.

    DocBook provides three mechanisms for grouping paragraphs together:
    nested sections, explicitly numbered sections, and simplesects
    (which allow no further levels of nested sections). You might
    consider using a simplesect with a role attribute as the wrapper on
    your associated paragraphs, since it is a structural element that
    would allow representation of the structure of the document using a
    robust representation such as a title to supplement the reduced
    spacing you mention in the request. You could also use the
    annotation mechanism to provide an indication of a related set of
    paragraphs and have your processing system provide the formatting
    you desire, but it is likely to have the same problem of providing
    a robust representation without a wrapper with which to associate
    the representation. As the entry in the reference says with regard
    to the inclusion of block elements within a paragraph, "There is no
    easy answer to this problem."

     
  • Larry Rowland

    Larry Rowland - 2010-04-27
    • status: open --> closed-rejected
     

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