Branch filtering: Implications of processing order

Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) Version 1.3 Part 1: Base Edition

OASIS DITA Technical Committee

Because the branch filtering process can result in new or renamed keys, key scopes, or URIs, the full effects of the branch filtering process MUST be calculated by processors before they construct the effective map and key scope structure.

Note: The keyref attribute and related attributes are explicitly disallowed on ditavalref. This prevents any confusion resulting from a keyref that resolves to additional key- or resource-renaming metadata.

In general, the DITA specification refrains from mandating a processing order; thus publication results can vary slightly depending on the order in which processes are run. With branch filtering, processors are not required to apply filter conditions specified outside of the map and filter conditions specified with ditavalref at the same time in a publishing process.

For example, a processor might use the following processing order:

  1. Apply externally-specified filter conditions to maps
  2. Apply filtering based on ditavalref elements

Because externally-specified "exclude" conditions always take precedence over branch-specific conditions, content excluded based on external conditions will always be removed, regardless of the order in which processors evaluate conditions.

Processors should consider the following points when determining a processing order:

  • If links are generated based on the map hierarchy, those links should be created using the renamed keys and URIs that result from evaluating the ditavalref filter conditions, to ensure that the links are consistent within the modified branches. For example, sequential links based on a map hierarchy should remain within the appropriate modified branch.
  • If conrefs are resolved in topics before the ditavalref filtering conditions are evaluated, content that applies to multiple audiences can be brought in and (later in the process) selectively filtered by branch. For example, if a set of installation steps is pulled in with conref (from outside the branch), it might contain information that is later filtered by platform based on ditavalref. This results in copies of the steps that are specific to each operating system. If conref is processed after the ditavalref, content might be pulled in that has not been appropriately filtered for the new context.
  • The same scenario applies to conref values that push content into the branch.
    • Pushing content into a branch before resolving the ditavalref conditions allows content for multiple conditions to be pushed and then filtered by branch based on the ditavalref conditions.
    • If the branch using ditavalref pushes content elsewhere, resolving ditavalref first could result in multiple copies of the content to be pushed (one for each branch), resulting in multiple potentially conflicting copies pushed to the new destination.