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Creating supertasks in DITA. Presented to the Silicon Valley DITA Interest Group August 9, 2006 Megan Bock. Discussion topics. What is a supertask? How do you create a supertask? How do you add related content without interrupting the sequence?

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creating supertasks in dita

Creating supertasks in DITA

Presented to the Silicon Valley DITA Interest Group

August 9, 2006

Megan Bock

discussion topics
Discussion topics
  • What is a supertask?
  • How do you create a supertask?
  • How do you add related content without interrupting the sequence?
  • What can you do to handle difficult supertasks?
supertask
Supertask
  • A supertask is a series of tasks that the reader should perform in a specific order.
  • In DITA, a supertask provides automatic linking:
    • From the supertask to the step tasks
    • From each step task to the supertask
    • From each step task to the preceding and following step tasks
  • A supertask can be a step task in a larger supertask.
creating a supertask
Creating a supertask
  • Create topics using the DITA task topic type:
    • Create a container topic for the supertask. Provide prerequisites, contextual information, and so forth.
    • Create a topic for each step task.
  • Add topic references in the DITA map:
    • Add a topicref element for the supertask container topic and set the collection-type attribute to sequence.
    • Insert the step topics. Nest them, in order, inside the container topic’s topicref element.
a supertask in the dita map
A supertask in the DITA map

A step topic in a supertask can be the container for another supertask.

hierarchical links in output
Hierarchical links in output
  • XHTML: Hierarchical links are created in the supertask container at build time.
    • Numbered task links in the parent.
    • Parent topic links in each child.
    • Sequence links in each child.
  • PDF: No hierarchical links are created.
the short description in hierarchical links
The short description in hierarchical links
  • The title and short description become the ordered list items.
  • HTML output for task 1: <li class="olchildlink"><a href="jack_assembling.html">Assembling the jack</a><br /> Your jack might require assembly before you can use it to lift your vehicle.</li>
adding related content without interrupting the sequence
Adding related content without interrupting the sequence
  • If you deliver PDF or books, insert a topicref element where you want to place the related content.
  • Use a relationship table to link to the related content from the supertask container and any of the step tasks.
  • If the related content is a child of the supertask container, turn off linking for the related content topic or topics.
inserting and linking a concept topic
Inserting and linking a concept topic

← Use linking=“none” to keep the concept out of the task sequence.

← Use toc=“no” to keep the concept topic out of the navigation.

Use a relationship table to control all linking to the concept. →

↓Use index entries normally.

using a relationship table to add a concept
Using a relationship table to add a concept
  • Relationship tables define links outside the topic hierarchy.
  • Relationship tables can be designed in different ways. Basic designs include:
    • Source and target columns (shown)
    • Topic type columns
    • Single column
the short description in related links
The short description in related links
  • In XHTML output, the content of the shortdesc element becomes the title attribute on the related links, parent link, and sequence links. Sample output: <a href="jack.html" title="A jack is a device that you can use to lift a vehicle.">Jack</a>
  • In PDF output, the content of the shortdesc element is positioned below the related link.
difficult supertasks
Difficult supertasks
  • A task in the sequence doesn’t have a topic or is not a local topic
  • Sequences intersect, fork, or run parallel
    • Intersecting: Two sequences use the same topic
    • Forking: The sequence splits and does not rejoin
    • Parallel: The sequence splits and then rejoins
solutions for difficult supertasks
Solutions for difficult supertasks
  • Simulate a supertask
    • Slightly different output, especially in PDF
    • More difficult to maintain
    • Good for: step that is not a topic or a local topic
  • Use the copy-to attribute on a topicref element
    • More output files and longer PDFs
    • Duplicates in the index and search results
    • Good for: intersecting tasks
  • Insert a transition topic
    • Time-consuming to create and maintain
    • Good for: forking tasks
  • Create shell topics
    • Time-consuming to create and maintain
    • Good for: parallel tasks, intersecting tasks
tagging example for a simulated supertask
Tagging example for a simulated supertask

To simulate a supertask:

  • Make the short descriptions in the step task topics reusable.
  • Build the task as inline links in the steps of the supertask.
  • Break the generated linking in the map.
  • Rebuild the linking with a relationship table.
make the short descriptions reusable
Make the short descriptions reusable

Insert a ph element around the text of the short description. (You can’t reference a short description as the conref target in a step.)

build the tasks as steps
Build the tasks as steps
  • Create a step for each task topic.
  • Insert an xref element in the cmd element.
  • Insert an info element to hold the short description content.
  • Insert a ph element with a conref attribute targeting the topic’s short description.
break the generated linking in the map
Break the generated linking in the map
  • Nest the step task topics inside the supertask container topic.
  • Do not assign a collection-type attribute on the topicref element for the supertask container topic.
  • Turn off linking to each of the step task topics in the supertask.
rebuild the linking with a relationship table
Rebuild the linking with a relationship table
  • Duplicate the supertask structure in a cell in a relationship table.
  • For the supertask container topic, set the collection-type attribute to sequence and the linking attribute to target-only.
  • For each of the step task topics, set the linking attribute to normal. (The attribute is inherited from the supertask container, so you have to turn linking back on.)