exportanchors

Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) Version 1.3 Part 3: All-Inclusive Edition

version
1.3
author
OASIS DITA Technical Committee

The exportanchors element is used to delay conref resolution within DITA documents. This allows you to process or display DITA content in a way that will resolve only some of the conref values in that content, while remaining values are left for later resolution. The element contains a list of IDs or keys that are not resolved during the initial preparation of the content for display; those IDs and keys will be preserved after that preparation, as will the conref relationship itself.

The exportanchors element canbe used within a topic prolog, in which case the defined IDs apply to IDs within that topic (excluding sub-topics). Alternatively it can be defined in a topicmeta element in a map. In the second case the IDs apply to the single topic referenced by the current topicref element. If the topicref references a file without referencing a specific topic, it is treated as a reference to the first or root topic. In order to define anchor ids for a topic that is not the first or root topic, a topicref must directly reference the desired sub-topic.

Note: When an element's ID is defined for delayed resolution, it must contain only the element ID, not the usual "topicid/elementid" syntax that is required for most other DITA references. The anchorid topic explains the format in detail.

One possible way to use this is with a system that renders DITA dynamically. A user can process information locally in a way that resolves conref for all static information, while delaying resolution for information that is subject to change. The exportanchors element is used to define conref values that are delayed.

Another potential use is when DITA is used as the source format for a publishing system that is able to render information dynamically. In this case some conref values might be resolved, while leaving pre-selected values to be resolved live in that publishing system.

Many publishing systems for which DITA is used as a source format do not have a way to dynamically resolve content references; those systems will not see any benefit from this element. When DITA is used for those systems, behaviors related to this element are ignored.

Content models

See appendix for information about this element in OASIS document type shells.

Inheritance

+ topic/keywords delay-d/exportanchors

Example

Figure. Use case 1: Runtime resolution of conref to an id, determined by original author
  1. Author 1 creates topics for information component A, which is a common component used by many products. The configuration task for component A is often reused in whole or in part, so the author assigns ids to each of the steps in the procedure and exports them.
    <task id="configA">
      <title>ABC</title>
      <shortdesc>...</shortdesc>
      <prolog><metadata>
        <exportanchors>
          <anchorid id="step1"/>
          <anchorid id="step2"/>
          <anchorid id="step3"/>
        </exportanchors>
      </metadata></prolog>
      <taskbody>
        <steps>
          <step id="step1"><cmd>Do this</cmd></step>
          <step id="step2"><cmd>Do the other</cmd></step>
          <step id="step3"><cmd>And then finish</cmd></step>
        </steps>
      </taskbody>
    </task>
  2. Author 2 is working on information component B, which has information component A as a prerequisite.
  3. Author 2 creates a configuration task that reuses two steps from the configuration task in information component A.
    <task id="configB">
      <title>..</title>
      <shortdesc>..</shortdesc>
      <taskbody>
        <steps>
          <step><cmd>Do the very first thing</cmd></step>
          <step conref="componentA/configA.dita#configA/step1"><cmd/></step>
          <step><cmd>Do the middle thing</cmd></step>
          <step conref="componentA/configA.dita#configA/step2"><cmd/></step>
        </steps>
      </taskbody>
    </task>
  4. Author 2 builds the content for component B into a deliverable format that supports dynamic content resolution. As with traditional conref, the source for component A must be available during this process. Because the ids in configA are exported, the build process knows to preserve the reuse relationship rather than resolve it - so the conref reference to the steps becomes an equivalent reuse artifact in that deliverable format. This way the relationship to component A can be resolved at runtime, and pick up the user's version of component A, which might be more up-to-date than the one used by Author 2 when component B was built.
Figure. Use case 2: Runtime resolution to an id exported by the information builder
  1. Author 1 is creating content that will be packaged into multiple deliverable components. In one of those components, component A, the ids should be exported for runtime reuse by other components. In other components, the ids should not be exported because all reuse is local (for example, the output is a single infocenter, or a helpset that has only one component).
  2. When author 1 builds component A, the author uses a map that exports the ids, rather than exporting the ids from the topic prolog.
    <map>
      <topicref href="componentA/configA.dita">
        <topicmeta>
          <exportanchors>
            <anchorid id="step1"/>
            <anchorid id="step2"/>
            <anchorid id="step3"/>
          </exportanchors>
        </topicmeta>
      </topicref>
    </map>
  3. The rest of the use case is the same as previous - the conref reference is passed on to the runtime/display format to deal with, rather than being resolved during native DITA processing.
Figure. Delaying resolution for a topic

The ID on an anchorid element is first compared with the topic's id, and then with elements inside that topic. This results in the following situation.

<map>
  <topicref href="componentA/this.dita">
    <topicmeta>
      <exportanchors>
        <anchorid id="this"/>
        <anchorid id="that"/>
      </exportanchors>
    </topicmeta>
  </topicref>
</map>

<topic id="this">
  <title>This and that</title>
  <shortdesc>Oh, you know, this and that.</shortdesc>
  <body>
    <fig id="that"><p>more of that</p></fig>
  </body>
</topic>
  • The first ID to be exported is "this", which matches the topic id, so resolution of conref values that target the topic should be delayed.
  • The second value is "that", which matches a figure within the topic, so resolution of conref values that target the figure should be delayed.
  • Note that if the "this" is also used within the topic (which is legal from a DITA perspective), it will not be possible to export that id, because processors will match on the topic's id first.

Example

In this example, a set of information contains multiple components. Some references to component A use keys rather than a direct reference, so that conref can be redirected to a different component when component A is not installed. The keys might be exported, in addition to the IDs, so that some references become bound to the actual component while other references might be redirected.

<map>
  <topicref keys="componentAconfig commonconfig" 
            href="componentA/configA.dita#configA">
    <topicmeta>
      <exportanchors>
        <anchorkey keyref="commonconfig"/>
        <anchorid id="step1"/>
        <anchorid id="step2"/>
      </exportanchors>
    </topicmeta>
  </topicref>
</map>

The keys attributes declares two distinct keys that can be used to refer to this topic (componentAconfig and commonconfig). Only the second is preserved using anchorkey. A task topic from another component might reuse steps within this topic in a variety of ways.

<steps>
  <step conkeyref="componentAconfig/step1"><cmd/></step>
  <step conkeyref="componentAconfig/step1.5"><cmd/></step>
  <step conkeyref="commonconfig/step2"><cmd/></step>
  <step conkeyref="commonconfig/step2.5"><cmd/></step>
  <step><cmd>And that is the end of that</cmd></step>
</steps>
  • The componentAconfig key is not preserved, so the first step becomes <step conref="componentA/configA.dita#configA/step1"><cmd/></step>. At that point the anchorid element instructs the step1 ID to be preserved; for runtime applications which support it, this relationship will be preserved in the processed DITA output.
  • The second step with the same key becomes <step conref="componentA/configA.dita#configA/step1.5"><cmd/></step>. However, conref relationships to step1.5 are not preserved, so this conref should be resolved into static content.
  • For step three, the map instructs that both the key commonconfig and the ID step2 should be preserved in any content generated for this DITA topic. For formats that support runtime resolution through keys, a process must convert the conkeyref value into an equivalent value for that format.
  • Although resolution for the key used in step four is delayed, the specific element that is referenced should not be delayed. Thus the fourth step becomes <step conref="componentA/configA.dita#configA/step2.5"><cmd/></step>. This value is then processed as an ordinary conref value.

This allows the information assembler to resolve references that must be to componentA while deferring references that can be fulfilled by alternative component content.

Note: This example demonstrates why the anchorid element cannot reference an element with the usual topicid/elementid format. If the two anchorid elements in the example had been set to config/step1 and config/step2, then they would only ever apply in a topic with id="config". It would not be possible to redirect the key to another topic, but still preserve conref behaviors as desired.
Note: Although it is not specifically called out in this example, it is possible to delay conref resolution for an entire topic using the key. If conkeyref on a task topic element is set to "componentAconfig", which is not delayed, the conref will be evaluated as usual. However, if conkeyref on the task is set to "commonconfig", which is delayed, resolution of conref on that element should be delayed by a processor.

Attributes

The following attributes are available on this element: Universal attribute group.